Parasympathetic reactivation after repeated sprint exercise

Document Type

Journal Article


American Physiological Society


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science


School of Exercise, Biomedical and Health Science




Buchheit, M., Laursen, P. B., & Ahmaidi, S. (2007). Parasympathetic reactivation after repeated sprint exercise. American Journal of Physiology-Heart and Circulatory Physiology, 293(1), H133-H141. Available here


The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of muscular power engagement, anaerobic participation, aerobic power level, and energy expenditure on postexercise parasympathetic reactivation. We compared the response of heart rate (HR) after repeated sprinting with that of exercise sessions of comparable net energy expenditure and anaerobic energy contribution. Fifteen moderately trained athletes performed 1) 18 maximal all-out 15-m sprints interspersed with 17 s of passive recovery (RS), 2) a moderate isocaloric continuous exercise session (MC) at a level of mean oxygen uptake similar to that of the RS trial, and 3) a high-intensity intermittent exercise session (HI) conducted at a level of anaerobic energy expenditure similar to that of the RS trial. Subjects were immediately seated after the exercise trials, and beat-to-beat HR was recorded for 10 min. Parasympathetic reactivation was evaluated through 1) immediate postexercise HR recovery, 2) the time course of the root mean square for the successive R-R interval difference between successive 30-s segments (RMSSD30s) and 3) HR variability vagal-related indexes calculated for the last 5-min stationary period of recovery. RMSSD30s increased during the 10-min period after the MC trial, whereas RMSSD30s remained depressed after both the RS and HI trials. Parasympathetic reactivation indexes were similar for the RS and HI trials but lower than for the MC trial (P < 0.001). When data of the three exercise trials were considered together, only anaerobic contribution was related to HR trial-derived indexes. Parasympathetic reactivation is highly impaired after RS exercise and appears to be mainly related to anaerobic process participation.



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