Benefits of achieving vigorous as well as moderate physical activity recommendations: Evidence from heart rate complexity and cardiac vagal modulation
The aim of this study was to examine differences in traditional heart rate variability measurements and heart rate complexity (sample entropy) in young adults grouped by objectively measured achievement of either moderate or both moderate and vigorous physical activity recommendations. Of 168 young adults tested (86 females, 82 males; age 20.5 ± 1.2 years), 119 achieved only recommendations for moderate physical activity (moderate group) and 49 achieved recommendations for both moderate and vigorous physical activity (vigorous group). Analysis of covariance controlling for sex, weekly minutes of moderate physical activity, and percentage of body fat was used to assess between-group differences in heart rate variability and heart rate complexity. Logistic regression analysis was used to determine the group characteristics that best predicted high heart rate complexity and vagal indices of heart rate variability. The majority of the autonomic measures were higher (P < 0.05) in the vigorous group, and regression analysis showed that vigorous physical activity was the only multivariate predictor of higher heart rate complexity and higher heart rate variability. Young adults engaged in regular vigorous physical activity were more than twice as likely to have high heart rate complexity than those involved in predominantly moderate exercise. These findings suggest that vigorous physical activity is more closely associated with high heart rate complexity than moderate physical activity in young adults.