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Int J Sports Med. 2013 Nov;34(11):991-6. doi: 10.1055/s-0033-1337946. Epub 2013 Apr 19.

Lactate and heart rate variability threshold during resistance exercise in the young and elderly.

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Department of Physiotherapy, Cardiopulmonary Physiotherapy Laboratory, Nucleus of Research in Physical Exercise, Federal University of Sao Carlos, Sao Carlos, Brazil.


This purpose of this study was to: 1) determine the intensity corresponding to anaerobic threshold (AT) during a discontinuous resistance exercise protocol in healthy young and elderly subjects by analyzing heart rate variability (HRV) and blood lactate (BL) and 2) investigate the effect of aging on these variables. A total of 28 individuals, 14 young and 14 elderly healthy men underwent one-repetition maximum (1RM) testing to determine maximum load on the leg press. Discontinuous resistance exercise testing was initiated at 10% of the 1RM with subsequent increases of 10%. The load corresponding to AT was approximately 30% 1RM in both groups. The determination of AT by HRV was associated with BL responses (p<0.01). While HRV indexes decreased with increasing of loads in both groups, the elderly had lower values at loads below AT (p<0.05). Additionally, BL increased sharply after the load corresponding to AT in both groups, although elderly subjects showed the lowest values (p<0.05). In conclusion, HRV is an effective tool for determining AT, which was approximately 30% 1RM under the testing procedures included in the present study. Furthermore, there was a marked change in autonomic function, with gradual vagal withdrawal followed by sympathetic activation. These responses were lower in elderly subjects.

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