Use of heart rate and heart rate variability to indicate anaerobic threshold




Park, Sung Wook

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No real-time method of determining intensity at anaerobic threshold (AT) currently exists. Heart rate (HR) and heart rate variability (HRV) has been researched as a possible indicator of AT in the past, however, the ability of HR and HRV to identify AT has not been established. Methods: HR, HRV and ventilation (Ve) were assessed during a discontinuous protocol in experienced cyclists. Total participants (13; 7 male, 6 female) with a mean age of 29.92 ± 5.92 years performed a discontinuous cycle exercise protocol with several stages below and several stages above AT. Data for HR, HRV parameters, and Ve were plotted against Watts (W). The W at thresholds for HR and HRV parameters were compared to ventilatory threshold (VT) W using paired sample t-tests. Results: Thresholds were only found for mean R-R interval (MRR) vs. W (MRRTW), HR vs. W (HRTW), and HRV low frequency vs. W (LFTW). Only HRTW occurred at the intensity which also corresponded to ATW (i.e., ATW and HRTW were not statistically different (t (12) = 1.068, p = 0.306). The comparisons for ATW vs MRRTW (t (12) = 2.802, p < 0.05) and ATW vs LFTW (t (12) = 8.988, p < 0.05) were statistically significant. Conclusion: The HRTW can indicate for ATW during cycling exercise; however, MRRTW and LFTW cannot.


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Anaerobic threshold, Cycle, Heart rate, Heart rate variability, Ventilatory threshold



Health and Kinesiology