Body position affects the power spectrum of heart rate variability during dynamic exercise

Renza Perini, Claudio Orizio, Stefania Milesi, Luca Biancardi, Giuseppe Baselli, Arsenio Veicsteinas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The power spectrum analysis of R-R interval variability (RRV) has been estimated by means of an autoregressive method in six men in supine (S) and sitting (C) postures at rest and during steady-state cycle exercise at about 14010, 28%, 45%, 67% of the maximal oxygen consumption (% VO2max). The total power of RRV decreased exponentially as a function of exercise intensity in a similar way in both postures. Three components were recognized in the power spectra: firstly, a high frequency peak (HF), an expression of respiratory arrhythmia, the central frequency (fcentral) of which increased in both S and C from a resting value of about 0.26 Hz to 0.42 Hz at 67% VO2max; secondly, a low frequency peak (LF) related to arterial pressure control, the fcentral of which remained constant at 0.1 Hz in C, whereas in S above 28% VO2max decreased to 0.07 Hz; and thirdly, a very low frequency component (VLF; less than 0.05 Hz, no fcentral). The power of the three components (as a percentage of the total power) depended on the body posture and the metabolic demand. HF% at rest was 30.3 (SEM 6.6) % in S and 5.0 (SEM 0.8) % in C. During exercise HF% decreased by about 30% in S and increased to 19.7 (SEM 5.5) % at 28% VO2max in C. LF% was lower in S than in C at rest [31.6 (SEM 5.7) % vs 44.9 (SEM 6.4) %; P2max. At the highest intenstities it increased to 54.0 (SEM 15.6) % in S whereas in C it decreased to 8.5 (SEM 1.6) %. VLF represented the remaining power and the change was in the opposite direction to LF. The changes in power spectrum distribution of RRV during exercise depended on the intensity and the body posture. In particular, the LF peak showed opposite trends in S and C tasks, thus suggesting a different readjustment of arterial pressure control mechanisms in relation to the blood distribution and peripheral resistances.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-213
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1993


  • Heart rate control system
  • Posture and circulatory system
  • Power spectrum analysis
  • Supine exercise

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Physiology


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