Heart rate variability during dynamic exercise in elderly males and females

Renza Perini, Stefania Milesi, Nadine M. Fisher, David R. Pendergast, Arsenio Veicsteinas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


It has been proposed that cardiac control is altered in the elderly. Power spectral analysis of heart rate variability (HRV) was performed on 12 male and 11 female elderly subjects (mean age 74 years) while at rest in supine and sitting positions, and at steady states during 5 min of exercise (35-95% peak oxygen consumption, V̇O(2peak)). There were no differences in power, measured as a percentage of the total of the high frequency peak (HF, centred at about 0.25 Hz; 13% in males vs 12% in females), low frequency peak (LF, centred at 0.09 Hz; 25% in males and 22% in females), and very low frequency component (VLF, at 0.03 Hz; 66% in males and 69% in females) between body positions at rest. There was no difference in spectral power between male and female subjects. Total power decreased as a function of oxygen consumption during exercise, LF% did not change up to about 14 ml · kg-1 · min-1 (40% and 80% V̇O(2peak) in males and females, respectively), then decreased towards minimal values in both genders. HF% power and central frequency increased linearly with metabolic demand, reaching higher values in male subjects than in female subjects at V̇O(2peak), while VLF% remained unchanged. Thus, the power spectra components of HRV did not reflect the changes in autonomic activity that occur at increasing exercise intensities, confirming previous findings in young subjects, and indicated similar responses in both genders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-15
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - May 2000


  • Ageing
  • Autonomic nervous system
  • Exercise
  • Gender
  • Heart rate variability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Physiology
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

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    Perini, R., Milesi, S., Fisher, N. M., Pendergast, D. R., & Veicsteinas, A. (2000). Heart rate variability during dynamic exercise in elderly males and females. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 82(1-2), 8-15.