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Megan George and Paul E. Luebbers Department of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation, Emporia State University, Emporia, Kansas

Post-exercise heart rate recovery time has been used as an indicator of cardiovascular fitness and health. Typically, the amount of time it takes for the heart rate (HR) to return to its resting value is inversely proportional to cardiovascular health. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to examine post-exercise heart-rate recovery time among undergraduate college students of different weekly physical activity levels. METHODS: Twenty-one participants completed this study. Volunteers were sought for meeting one of three criteria based on physical activity level: untrained (UT; n=7, 83.7±20.2kg), recreationally-trained (RT; n=7, 72.5±24.4kg), and athletically-trained (AT; n=7, 59.17±5.6kg). Prior to exercise, each participant’s resting HR was recorded. The exercise session consisted of walking and jogging on a treadmill of increasing speed and incline until a HR of 70% of age-predicted HR maximum was reached. This intensity was then maintained for four minutes. Upon completion of the exercise session, HR was monitored until it returned to the pre-exercise resting value. RESULTS: HR recovery times for each group: UT=468.0±51.8 seconds, RT=179.8±31.2 seconds, AT=115.3±38.1 seconds. An ANOVA indicated a significant difference among the HR recovery times of the three groups (p<.001). Bonferroni post-hoc tests revealed that AT had significantly shorter recovery times than RT (p=.023) and UT (p<.001), and that RT was significantly shorter than UT (p<.001). CONCLUSION: Athletically-trained college students have a shorter HR recovery time than both of their RT and UT counterparts. Recreationally-trained students have a longer HR recovery time than AT students, but shorter times than UT students. These data indicate that the level of weekly physical activity achieved by college students may influence their post-exercise HR recovery time. Therefore, exercise may play a role in the cardiovascular health of this population, as determined by HR recovery time.

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