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Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1992 Feb;24(2):265-71.

Reliability and variability of heart rate monitoring in 3-, 4-, or 5-yr-old children.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta 30912.


We describe the daily heart rate patterns and the between day and within day reliabilities of several heart rate variables measured in 159 Anglo-, African-, and Mexican-American children aged 3-5 yr. Heart rates were measured over 12 waking hours with a Quantum XL Telemetry heart rate monitor. There were no significant ethnic, gender, day of week, or season of the year differences in either mean resting heart rate, mean daily heart rate, mean longest duration of the heart rate sustained above 120 bpm for the day, nor percent of minutes of daily heart rate above 120 bpm. The reliabilities for these variables for 2 d of observation separated by 3-6 months ranged from 0.65 to 0.66. At this level of reliability, just over 4 d of recording are necessary to achieve a reliability of 0.80. All within-day across-hour reliabilities were greater than 0.80. However, for mean hourly heart rate and the longest duration of heart rate sustained above 120 bpm each hour, a principal components analysis revealed three distinct time components during the day. This suggests that monitoring heart rate during limited portions of the day will provide a biased estimate of overall heart rate. For the morning component, there were significant ethnic and gender differences in the children's heart rates and younger children had longer durations of heart rate sustained above 120 bpm than older children. Although daily heart rate monitoring is not a perfect indicator of children's physical activity, these data suggest that it may be a reliable measure among younger children from different ethnic and gender groups.

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