MILD ANTICIPATORY STRESS DOES NOT AFFECT HEART RATE VARIABILITY INACTIVE AND IN ACTIVE ATHLETES
Barham, K., Priest, J. W., & Nelson, A. (2006). Heart rate variability of active and inactive athletes during rest and stress. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 38(5), Supplement abstract 1901.
"Recent studies have focused attention on the existence of physiological rhythms within the precise timing of the intervals between heart beats. This so called heart rate variability (HRV) has been reported to be related to autonomic function of the heart and differs among groups according to age, body position, fitness status, as well as acute levels of stress. Whether or not currently competitive athletes have a distinct autonomic response to stress is not well-established." The purpose of the study was to examine the autonomic response as determined by HRV in active (N = 6) and inactive (N = 6) athletes during a mental workload. The Bassin Anticipation Timer provided a repeated mild competitive stressor. To determine anticipatory timing Ss pushed a timed button anticipating the arrival of a light sequence that moved toward the athletes at 1.34 m/s, increasing by 0.89 m/s each minute for five minutes.
Resting heart rates remained unchanged during anticipatory timing in both groups. The time domain measure of variability of intervals (standard deviation of the interval between normal beats) and total power did not change from rest to anticipatory timing. The normalized high frequency component of heart rate variability was unchanged from rest to anticipatory timing.
Implication. Heart rate variability is similar between active and inactive athletes during conditions of rest. Competitive participation in anticipatory timing does not produce a detectable stressor that affects heart rate variability.
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