Heart-rate recovery (HRR) has been proposed as a marker of autonomic function and training status in athletes. The authors performed a systematic review of studies that examined HRR after training. Five cross-sectional studies and 8 studies investigating changes over time (longitudinal) met our criteria. Three out of 5 crosssectional studies observed a faster HRR in trained compared with untrained subjects, while 2 articles showed no change as a result of training. Most longitudinal studies observed a corresponding increase in HRR and power output (training status). Although confounding factors such as age, ambient temperature, and the intensity and duration of the exercise period preceding HRR make it difficult to compare these studies, the available studies indicated that HRR was related to training status. Therefore, the authors conclude that HRR has the potential to become a valuable tool to monitor changes in training status in athletes and less well-trained subjects, but more studies and better standardization are required to match this potential.
Daanen, Kallen, Jin, and Van Meeteren are with TNO Behavioral and Societal Sciences, Soesterberg, The Netherlands. Lamberts is with the UCT/MRC Research Unit for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine, The Sport Science Institute of South Africa, Newlands, South Africa.