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Open Access Highly Accessed Research

Relationship between post-exercise heart rate variability and skinfold thickness

Michael R Esco* and Henry N Williford

Author Affiliations

Human Performance Laboratory, Auburn University at Montgomery, P.O. Box 244023, Montgomery, AL, 36124-4023, USA

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SpringerPlus 2013, 2:389  doi:10.1186/2193-1801-2-389

Published: 19 August 2013

Abstract

This investigation aimed to determine if groupings based upon sum of skinfold thickness (SF) would reflect the differences in heart rate variability (HRV) measured for up to 30-minutes following maximal exercise, and to determine the extent in variation in post-exercise HRV that could be accounted for between the following independent variables: SF, body mass index (BMI) and maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max). SF and BMI measurements were performed on fifty-four men who completed maximal exercise testing to determine VO2max. HRV was evaluated for five-minutes before (Pre), at 0-5 minutes post- (Post1) and 25-30 minutes post-exercise (Post2), and analyzed by frequency domain [high frequency (HF) power, and HF to low frequency power ratio (LF:HF)). Two groups were formed based on being above or below the sample mean value of SF. HF and LF:HF were significantly higher and lower, respectively, at Pre and Post 2 in Group 1 compared to Group 2 (p < 0.05), which remained after controlling for VO2max and BMI. Furthermore, there was a significant trend toward baseline in post-exercise HRV in Group 1 (p < 0.05) but not in Group 2 (p > 0.05). In addition, SF was the only variable to significantly relate to the post-exercise HRV parameters (p < 0.05). The findings of this investigation suggest greater SF is related to a delayed return of HRV toward baseline from maximal exercise. The association between SF and HRV is independent of VO2max and BMI.

Keywords:
Exercise; Cardiovascular; Fitness; Body composition; Autonomic nervous system