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Journal of Basic and Clinical Physiology and Pharmacology

Editor-in-Chief: Horowitz, Michal

Editorial Board: Das, Kusal K. / Epstein, Yoram / S. Gershon MD, Elliot / Kodesh , Einat / Kohen, Ron / Lichtstein, David / Maloyan, Alina / Mechoulam, Raphael / Roth, Joachim / Schneider, Suzanne / Shohami, Esther / Sohmer, Haim / Yoshikawa, Toshikazu / Tam, Joseph

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Volume 28, Issue 3


Comparison of structured and unstructured physical activity training on predicted VO2max and heart rate variability in adolescents – a randomized control trial

Vivek Kumar Sharma / Senthil Kumar Subramanian
  • Corresponding author
  • Department of Physiology, Pondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), Kalapet, Puducherry 605014, India
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/ Krishnakumar Radhakrishnan / Rajathi Rajendran / Balasubramanian Sulur Ravindran / Vinayathan Arunachalam
Published Online: 2017-03-28 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jbcpp-2016-0117



Physical inactivity contributes to many health issues. The WHO-recommended physical activity for adolescents encompasses aerobic, resistance, and bone strengthening exercises aimed at achieving health-related physical fitness. Heart rate variability (HRV) and maximal aerobic capacity (VO2max) are considered as noninvasive measures of cardiovascular health. The objective of this study is to compare the effect of structured and unstructured physical training on maximal aerobic capacity and HRV among adolescents.


We designed a single blinded, parallel, randomized active-controlled trial (Registration No. CTRI/2013/08/003897) to compare the physiological effects of 6 months of globally recommended structured physical activity (SPA), with that of unstructured physical activity (USPA) in healthy school-going adolescents. We recruited 439 healthy student volunteers (boys: 250, girls: 189) in the age group of 12–17 years. Randomization across the groups was done using age and gender stratified randomization method, and the participants were divided into two groups: SPA (n=219, boys: 117, girls: 102) and USPA (n=220, boys: 119, girls: 101). Depending on their training status and gender the participants in both SPA and USPA groups were further subdivided into the following four sub-groups: SPA athlete boys (n=22) and girls (n=17), SPA nonathlete boys (n=95) and girls (n=85), USPA athlete boys (n=23) and girls (n=17), and USPA nonathlete boys (n=96) and girls (n=84).


We recorded HRV, body fat%, and VO2 max using Rockport Walk Fitness test before and after the intervention. Maximum aerobic capacity and heart rate variability increased significantly while heart rate, systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, and body fat percentage decreased significantly after both SPA and USPA intervention. However, the improvement was more in SPA as compared to USPA.


SPA is more beneficial for improving cardiorespiratory fitness, HRV, and reducing body fat percentage in terms of magnitude than USPA in adolescent individuals irrespective of their gender and sports activities.

This article offers supplementary material which is provided at the end of the article.

Keywords: heart rate variability; maximal aerobic capacity; structured physical activity; unstructured physical activity; VO2max


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About the article

Corresponding author: Dr. Senthil Kumar Subramanian, Assistant Professor, Department of Physiology, Pondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), Kalapet, Puducherry 605014, India, Phone: 9962267560

Received: 2016-07-26

Accepted: 2017-02-07

Published Online: 2017-03-28

Published in Print: 2017-05-01

Author contributions: All the authors have accepted responsibility for the entire content of this submitted manuscript and approved submission.

Research funding: This is a self-funded project with support from JIPMER, Pondicherry and Jawahar Navodhya Vidyalaya, Pondicherry.

Employment or leadership: None declared.

Honorarium: None declared.

Competing interests: The funding organization(s) played no role in the study design; in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; or in the decision to submit the report for publication.

Citation Information: Journal of Basic and Clinical Physiology and Pharmacology, Volume 28, Issue 3, Pages 225–238, ISSN (Online) 2191-0286, ISSN (Print) 0792-6855, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jbcpp-2016-0117.

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