The aim of this study was to determine whether non-invasive heart rate variability (HRV) recordings can be used to monitor training exercises and to estimate athletic performance. Thus far, condition and performance have been evaluated with lactate test procedures and spirometry. Several tests were conducted to determine the relationship of data from lactate test samplings, spirometry and HRV recordings. Four groups of professional athletes in different disciplines such as ball sports (n=15), martial arts (n=17), endurance sports (n=8) and hobby athletes (n=6) underwent a standardized treadmill or bicycle ergometer step test while increasing load rates, e.g. 2 km/h or 20-50 Watt every 3.5 minutes, synchronized with standardized series of lactate test sampling, spirometry and ECG recording. An inclusion criterion for all athlete groups was a minimum training frequency of an hour, five days a week focusing on continuous performance improvement. Evidence shows that offline analysis of ECG data allows conclusions on actual individual athletic performance without the need for complex instrumentation and laboratory environment. The total power parameter of the HRV reaches a plateau phase in all tested subjects and this plateau phase reaches zero near the 2 mmol threshold of lactate concentration in all subjects recorded on a bicycle ergometer. Nine out of ten subjects measured on the bicycle ergometer had negatively correlating data of lactate concentration and total power of HRV (α < 0.05). Lactate measurements using treadmills require resting periods for blood sampling. As the HRV increases instantly in these resting periods, the use of bicycle ergometers, where no testing breaks are needed, is recommended for further research.
© 2019 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston
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