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Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1997 Nov;29(11):1482-90.

Autonomic differences between athletes and nonathletes: spectral analysis approach.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, Faculty of Science & Technology, Keio University, Kanagawa, Japan.


The purpose of this study was to assess the adaptive effects of endurance training on autonomic function in athletes with spectral analysis of cardiovascular variability signals. Continuous ECG, arterial blood pressure (ABP), and respiratory signals were recorded from 15 athletes (VO2max > 55 and 15 nonathletes (VO2max < 45 during 10 min at sitting position. Autonomic function was assessed by low frequency power (LF power: 0.06-0.14 Hz) and high frequency power (HF power: the region of the respiratory frequency based on respiratory spectrum) obtained from the autospectra of RR interval, systolic arterial pressure (SAP), and diastolic arterial pressure (DAP) variability signals. The spontaneous baroreflex sensitivity was evaluated by the moduli, BRSLF and BRSHF, of the transfer function between RR interval and SAP variability in LF and HF bands. The resting HR in athletes was significantly lower than that in nonathletes. The HF power, an index of parasympathetic activity, in RR interval spectra were significantly higher in athletes than in nonathletes. Meanwhile, the LF power (an indicator of sympathetic activities contributing to RR interval and of ABP variabilities) showed no significant difference between both groups, although that of athletes was slightly less than that of nonathletes. Also, BRSLF and BRSHF were not significantly different between athletes and nonathletes. These results indicate that endurance training results in the enhanced vagal activities in athletes, which may contribute in part to the resting bradycardia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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