Heart rate and exercise: An evidence based interpretation

Marcos Bezerra de Almeida


Our objective was to present and discuss the behavior of heart rate (HR) in such a manner as to facilitate clinical and epidemiological interpretation, and its use for prescribing exercise. At rest, HR can be considered a marker of subjects’
autonomic condition, but despite being affected by maximal aerobic power, neither should not be used for estimating the other. It is possible for HR to increase rapidly within just few seconds of exercise as a result of the vagal inhibition refl ex. This kind of situation is quite common in sports in which movements may be short and sudden, such as judo and tennis, and this information could be used for detecting sports talent. During prolonged exercise, HR tends to follow the level of intensity of effort, especially in continuous exercise. Maximum HR determined by equations exhibits signifi cant estimation errors and should be used with caution. Higher values suggest a better prognosis in terms of risk of mortality. Fast recovery of baseline HR after exercise, while indicating low cardiovascular risk, does not necessarily denote good aerobic fi tness. Evidence also suggests that resistance exercises evoke a lower cardiovascular response than endurance exercises. In conclusion, the utilization of HR for the purposes of diagnosis, prognosis or exercise prescription should be evidence based, in order to diminish the risk of interpretation errors, and also to increase applicability.


Freqüência cardíaca; Exercício; Atividade Física. <p> Heart rate; Exercise; Physical activity.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.5007/%25x

The abbreviated title of the journal is Rev. Bras. Cineantropom. Desempenho Hum, which should be used in bibliographies, footnotes and bibliographical references. E-ISSN 1980-0037, impressa ISSN 1415-8426, Florianópolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.