Comparison of heart and respiratory rate variability measures using an intermittent incremental submaximal exercise model

Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2013 Nov;38(11):1128-36. doi: 10.1139/apnm-2012-0370. Epub 2013 May 16.


To better understand the alterations in cardiorespiratory variability during exercise, the present study characterized the patterns of change in heart rate variability (HRV), respiratory rate variability (RRV), and combined cardiorespiratory variability (HRV-RRV) during an intermittent incremental submaximal exercise model. Six males and six females completed a submaximal exercise protocol consisting of an initial baseline resting period followed by three 10-min bouts of exercise at 20%, 40%, and 60% of maximal aerobic capacity (V̇O2max). The R-R interval and interbreath interval variability were measured at baseline rest and throughout the submaximal exercise. A group of 93 HRV, 83 RRV, and 28 HRV-RRV measures of variability were tracked over time through a windowed analysis using a 5-min window size and 30-s window step. A total of 91 HRV measures were able to detect the presence of exercise, whereas only 46 RRV and 3 HRV-RRV measures were able to detect the same stimulus. Moreover, there was a loss of overall HRV and RRV, loss of complexity of HRV and RRV, and loss of parasympathetic modulation of HRV (up to 40% V̇O2max) with exercise. Conflicting changes in scale-invariant structure of HRV and RRV with increases in exercise intensity were also observed. In summary, in this simultaneous evaluation of HRV and RRV, we found more consistent changes across HRV metrics compared with RRV and HRV-RRV.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Exercise*
  • Heart
  • Heart Rate
  • Respiratory Rate*
  • Rest