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Heart rate variability is related to self-reported physical activity in a healthy adolescent population
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
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2009 (English)In: European Journal of Applied Physiology, ISSN 1439-6319, E-ISSN 1439-6327, Vol. 106, no 6, 877-883 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study investigated whether there is a relationship between heart rate variability (HRV) versus lifestyle and risk factors for cardiovascular disease in a population of healthy adolescents. HRV is as an index of tonic autonomic activity and in adults HRV is related to lifestyle and risk factors for cardiovascular disease, but it is not known if this is the case in adolescents. HRV was registered for 4 min in sitting position in 99 healthy adolescents (age range 15 years 11 months-17 years 7 months) and repeated after 6 months. On both occasions there were significant correlations (P < 0.05) between physical activity and HRV, with respective r values: high frequency (HF) 0.26, 0.30; low frequency power (LF) 0.35, 0.29 and the standard deviation of inter-beat intervals (SDNN) 0.28, 0.37. There was no significant interaction between first and second measurements. In contrast, there were no correlations to sleeping patterns, eating habits and smoking. Risk factors for cardiovascular disease [body mass index (BMI = weight (kg)/length in m(2)), systolic blood pressure and p-glucose] did not show any repeatable significant correlations to HRV. Multiple regression models showed that physical activity was a predictor for HF, LF and SDNN in both measurements. In conclusion HF, LF and SDNN were reproducible after 6 months and were related to physical activity on both occasions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009. Vol. 106, no 6, 877-883 p.
Keyword [en]
Lifestyle, Physical activity
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-128336DOI: 10.1007/s00421-009-1089-3ISI: 000268512100011OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-128336DiVA: diva2:331291
Available from: 2010-07-22 Created: 2010-07-20 Last updated: 2010-12-27Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Heart Rate Variability in Stress-related Fatigue, Adolescent Anxiety and Depression and its Connection to Lifestyle
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Heart Rate Variability in Stress-related Fatigue, Adolescent Anxiety and Depression and its Connection to Lifestyle
2010 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Heart rate varies constantly as a consequence of activity in the sympathetic and parasympathetic autonomic nervous systems (SNS and PNS). In short-term recordings, heart rate variability (HRV) is mostly related to the inhibitory activity of the vagal nerves, which are part of the PNS. HRV is lower when under stress as well as in several illnesses and psychiatric conditions. Decreased HRV is also related to cardiac disease, which is the leading cause of death worldwide. Autonomic imbalance, measured as HRV, is suggested as a mediator between psychosocial distress and cardiovascular disease.

The aim of the present thesis was to investigate the connection between HRV and psychosocial distress, including psychiatric problems (studies I and II), and lifestyle factors (study III). In study I, additional physiological measures sensitive to autonomic activity and results from a continuous attention test were investigated in parallel with HRV. In studies II and III the participants were adolescents.

The results show that HRV is lower in women with stress-related fatigue and adolescent girls with a psychiatric diagnosis compared to healthy control groups. However, these groups did not exhibit an increase in physiological measures of SNS origin, which supports the assumption that the observed hyperarousal is related to decreased vagal activity rather than increased SNS activity. Women with stress-related fatigue made more impulsive errors and had a “risky” response style in the continuous attention test. There was a negative correlation between test performance and HRV. Decreased vagal activity is thus associated with deficient behavioural inhibition. In study III, HRV in a group of healthy adolescent boys and girls was positively associated with physical activity but not with other lifestyle measures.

Even at young age HRV is a sensitive marker of autonomic imbalance resulting from psychosocial stress. Future longitudinal research will show whether HRV can be used for early identification of people at risk of cardiovascular disease and whether such interventions will lower the risk of cardiac morbidity.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universtatis Upsaliensis, 2010. 66 p.
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Social Sciences, ISSN 1652-9030 ; 61
heart rate variability, autonomic nervous system, vagal tone, allostatic load, stress, fatigue, anxiety, depression, continuous performance, attention, cardiovascular risk, lifestyle, physical activity
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-129910 (URN)978-91-554-7874-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2010-10-15, Sal IV, Universitetshuset, Uppsala, 10:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2010-09-24 Created: 2010-08-25 Last updated: 2010-12-22

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Olsson, Erik M. G.
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