Role of Type and Volume of Recreational Physical Activity on Heart Rate Variability in Men

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Apr 15;17(8):2719. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17082719.


The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of recreational aerobic physical activity (PA) type and volume on heart rate variability (HRV) in Arab men. This was a retrospective, cross-sectional study, and included men (n = 75, age = 37.6 ± 7.1 years, body mass index (BMI) = 26.7 ± 3.1 kg/m2) who were members of a walking group, cycling group, or were inactive controls. Monthly distances from the past three months were obtained from walking and cycling groups, and the volume of PA was classified into three subgroups (high, moderate, low). HRV was measured using a computerized electrocardiographic data acquisition device. R-R interval recordings were performed while participants rested in a motionless supine position. RR intervals were recorded for 15 minutes, and a five-minute segment with minimal ectopic beats and artifacts was selected for HRV analysis. Time-domain parameters included the mean R-R interval, standard deviation of the mean R-R interval (SDNN), and root-mean-squared difference of successive RR intervals (RMSSD). The frequency-domain parameters included high-frequency power (HF), low-frequency power (LF), and LF to HF ratio (LF/HF). Results showed that there were no significant differences between walking, cycling, and control groups for all HRV parameters. Time-domain analyses based on PA volume showed that age-adjusted SDNN for the high-active group was greater than the low-active group (P = 0.03), and RMSSD for the moderate-active group was greater than the control group (P = 0.009). For the frequency domain, LF for the high-active group was greater than the low-active and control groups (P = 0.006), and HF for the moderate-active group was greater than the low-active group (P = 0.04). These data indicate that walking >150 km per month, or cycling >100 km per month at a speed >20 km/h may be necessary to derive cardiac autonomic benefits from PA among Arab men.

Keywords: blood pressure; cycling; sedentary; time and frequency domains; walking.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Autonomic Nervous System*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Exercise* / physiology
  • Heart Rate*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies