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Am J Cardiol. 1998 Nov 15;82(10):1236-41.

Effect of endurance exercise training on heart rate variability at rest in healthy young and older men.

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Department of Medicine, Seattle Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the University of Washington, USA.


Heart rate variability (HRV) (SD of the RR interval), an index of parasympathetic tone, was measured at rest and during exercise in 13 healthy older men (age 60 to 82 years) and 11 healthy young men (age 24 to 32 years) before and after 6 months of aerobic exercise training. Before exercise training, the older subjects had a 47% lower HRV at rest compared with the young subjects (31 +/- 5 ms vs 58 +/- 4 ms, p = 0.0002). During peak exercise, the older subjects had less parasympathetic withdrawal than the young subjects (-45% vs -84%, p = 0.0001). Six months of intensive aerobic exercise training increased maximum oxygen consumption by 21% in the older group and 17% in the young group (analysis of variance: overall training effect, p = 0.0001; training effect in young vs old, p = NS). Training decreased the heart rate at rest in both the older (-9 beats/min) and the young groups (-5 beats/min, before vs after, p = 0.0001). Exercise training increased HRV at rest (p = 0.009) by 68% in the older subjects (31 +/- 5 ms to 52 +/- 8 ms) and by 17% in the young subjects (58 +/- 4 ms to 68 +/- 6 ms). Exercise training increases parasympathetic tone at rest in both the healthy older and young men, which may contribute to the reduction in mortality associated with regular exercise.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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