Journal of Human Sport and Exercise

Exercise and lifestyle predictors of resting heart rate in healthy young adults

Paul Nealen



Physical exercise is well-understood to provide significant health benefits, through physiological adaptations induced by the repeated exertion stress exercise imposes on our systems.  Chief among these are cardiovascular adaptations to exercise, including adjustments of cardiac parameters such as stroke volume, heart rate, and maximal cardiac output.  It is commonly assumed that aerobic forms of exercise provide greater cardiovascular benefits than do non-aerobic forms of exercise.  To test this assumption, exercise habits and resting heart rate were examined in a large population of healthy young adults.  90% of subjects reported regular physical exercise, with aerobic exercise constituting 64% of all exercise hours.  Subjects with a history of smoking exhibited higher resting heart rates than those with no smoking history, an effect which was due primarily to a reduction in exercise hours by smokers than due to a smoking habit itself.  While both total exercise amount and aerobic exercise amount were significantly and negatively related to resting heart rate, total exercise amount was a better overall predictor of resting heart rate than was aerobic exercise amount.  All forms of exercise were associated with cardiovascular health, with cardiovascular benefits accruing according to the amount of exercise performed, even in optimally healthy young adults.


Exercise; Aerobic; Lifestyle; Resting heart rate


Barker, A.L., et al., (2014). Effectiveness of aquatic exercise for musculoskeletal conditions: a meta-analysis. Archives of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, 95(9), 1776-86.

Carvalho, A., et al., (2014). Physical activity and cognitive function in individuals over 60 years of age: a systematic review. Clinical Interventions In Aging, 9, 661-82.

Charansonney, O.L., L. Vanhees, and A. Cohen-Solal, (2014). Physical activity: from epidemiological evidence to individualized patient management. International Journal of Cardiology, 170(3), 350-7.

Guiney, H. and L. Machado, (2013). Benefits of regular aerobic exercise for executive functioning in healthy populations. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 20(1), 73-86.

Lee, J.Y., et al., (2014). Impact of cardiac rehabilitation on angiographic outcomes after drug-eluting stents in patients with de novo long coronary artery lesions. American Journal of Cardiology, 113(12), 1977-85.

Peixoto, T.C., et al., (2015). Early exercise-based rehabilitation improves health-related quality of life and functional capacity after acute myocardial infarction: a randomized controlled trial. Canadian Journal of Cardiology, 31(3), 308-13.

Villella, M. and A. Villella, (2014). Exercise and cardiovascular diseases. Kidney & Blood Pressure Research, 39(2-3), 147-53.

Yang, K.C., Y.T. Tseng, and J.M. Nerbonne, (2012). Exercise training and PI3Kalpha-induced electrical remodeling is independent of cellular hypertrophy and Akt signaling. Journal of Molecular & Cellular Cardiology, 53(4), 532-41.

Zingman, L.V., et al., (2011). Exercise-induced expression of cardiac ATP-sensitive potassium channels promotes action potential shortening and energy conservation. Journal of Molecular & Cellular Cardiology, 51(1), 72-81.

George, K.P., L.A. Wolfe, and G.W. Burggraf, (1991). The 'athletic heart syndrome'. A critical review. Sports Medicine, 11(5), 300-30.

Saltin, B. and L.B. Rowell, (1980). Functional adaptations to physical activity and inactivity. Federation Proceedings, 39(5), 1506-13.

Goodman, J.M., P.P. Liu, and H.J. Green, (2005). Left ventricular adaptations following short-term endurance training. Journal of Applied Physiology, 98(2), 454-60.

Myers, J., et al., (2002). Effects of exercise training on left ventricular volumes and function in patients with nonischemic cardiomyopathy: application of magnetic resonance myocardial tagging. American Heart Journal, 144(4), 719-25.

Devereux, G.R., J.D. Wiles, and I.L. Swaine, (2010). Reductions in resting blood pressure after 4 weeks of isometric exercise training. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 109(4), 601-6.

Mahanonda, N., et al., (2000). Regular exercise and cardiovascular risk factors. Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand, 83 Suppl 2, S153-8.

Pratt, C.M., et al., (1981). Demonstration of training effect during chronic beta-adrenergic blockade in patients with coronary artery disease. Circulation, 64(6), 1125-9.

Stoutenberg, M., et al., (2012). Aerobic training does not alter CRP in apparently healthy, untrained men. Journal of Sports Medicine & Physical Fitness, 52(1), 53-62.

Cornelissen, V.A., R. Buys, and N.A. Smart, (2013). Endurance exercise beneficially affects ambulatory blood pressure: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Hypertension, 31(4), 639-48.

Millar, P.J., et al., (2014). Evidence for the role of isometric exercise training in reducing blood pressure: potential mechanisms and future directions. Sports Medicine, 44(3), 345-56.

Pal, S., S. Radavelli-Bagatini, and S. Ho, (2013). Potential benefits of exercise on blood pressure and vascular function. Journal of the American Society of Hypertension, 7(6), 494-506.

Bohm, M., et al., (2015). Resting heart rate: risk indicator and emerging risk factor in cardiovascular disease. American Journal of Medicine, 128(3), 219-28.

Floyd, J.S., et al., (2015). Variation in resting heart rate over 4 years and the risks of myocardial infarction and death among older adults. Heart, 101(2), 132-8.

Jiang, X., et al., (2015). Metabolic syndrome is associated with and predicted by resting heart rate: a cross-sectional and longitudinal study. Heart, 101(1), 44-9.

Bloomer, R.J., et al., (2005). Effects of acute aerobic and anaerobic exercise on blood markers of oxidative stress. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 19(2), 276-85.

Farrell, P.A., et al., (1982). A comparison of plasma cholesterol, triglycerides, and high density lipoprotein-cholesterol in speed skaters, weightlifters and non-athletes. European Journal of Applied Physiology & Occupational Physiology, 48(1), 77-82.

Kielar, R.A., et al., (1975). Standardized aerobic and anaerobic exercise: differential effects on intraocular tension, blood pH, and lactate. Investigative Ophthalmology, 14(10), 782-5.

Kindermann, W., et al., (1982). Catecholamines, growth hormone, cortisol, insulin, and sex hormones in anaerobic and aerobic exercise. European Journal of Applied Physiology & Occupational Physiology, 49(3), 389-99.

Schwarz, L. and W. Kindermann, (1990). Beta-endorphin, adrenocorticotropic hormone, cortisol and catecholamines during aerobic and anaerobic exercise. European Journal of Applied Physiology & Occupational Physiology, 61(3-4), 165-71.

Schwarz, L. and W. Kindermann, (1992). Changes in beta-endorphin levels in response to aerobic and anaerobic exercise. Sports Medicine, 13(1), 25-36.

Hackney, A.C., M.C. Premo, and R.G. McMurray, (1995). Influence of aerobic versus anaerobic exercise on the relationship between reproductive hormones in men. Journal of Sports Sciences, 13(4), 305-11.

Vanhelder, W.P., R.C. Goode, and M.W. (1984). Radomski, Effect of anaerobic and aerobic exercise of equal duration and work expenditure on plasma growth hormone levels. European Journal of Applied Physiology & Occupational Physiology, 52(3), 255-7.

Coulson, N.S., C. Eiser, and J.R. Eiser, (1997). Diet, smoking and exercise: interrelationships between adolescent health behaviours. Child: Care, Health and Development, 23(3), 207-216.

Song, Y., (2011). Time Preference and Time Use: Do Smokers Exercise Less? Labour, 25(3), 350-369.

Agelink, M.W., et al., (2001). Standardized tests of heart rate variability: normal ranges obtained from 309 healthy humans, and effects of age, gender, and heart rate. Clinical Autonomic Research, 11(2), 99-108.

Antelmi, I., et al., (2004). Influence of age, gender, body mass index, and functional capacity on heart rate variability in a cohort of subjects without heart disease. The American Journal of Cardiology, 93(3), 381-385.

Haskell, W.L., et al., (2007). Physical activity and public health: updated recommendation for adults from the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 39(8), 1423-34.

Hills, A.P., D.R. Dengel, and D.R. Lubans, (2015). Supporting public health priorities: recommendations for physical education and physical activity promotion in schools. Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, 57(4), 368-74.

Pediatrics, A.A.o., (2000). Physical fitness and activity in schools. Pediatrics, 105(5), 1156-7.

Powell, K.E. and R.S. Paffenbarger, Jr., (1985). Workshop on Epidemiologic and Public Health Aspects of Physical Activity and Exercise: a summary. Public Health Reports, 100(2), 118-26.

Prevention, C.f.D.C.a., (1997). Guidelines for school and community programs to promote lifelong physical activity among young people. Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report, 46(RR-6), 1-36.

Sparling, P.B., et al., (2015). Recommendations for physical activity in older adults. BMJ, 350, 100.

Slentz, C.A., et al., (2004). Effects of the amount of exercise on body weight, body composition, and measures of central obesity: Strride—a randomized controlled study. Archives of Internal Medicine, 164(1), 31-39.

Slentz, C.A., et al., (2005). Inactivity, exercise, and visceral fat. STRRIDE: a randomized, controlled study of exercise intensity and amount. Vol. 99, 1613-1618.

Slentz, C.A., J.A. Houmard, and W.E. Kraus, (2009). Exercise, Abdominal Obesity, Skeletal Muscle, and Metabolic Risk: Evidence for a Dose Response. Obesity, 17(S3), S27-S33.

Johnson, J.L., et al., (2007). Exercise Training Amount and Intensity Effects on Metabolic Syndrome (from Studies of a Targeted Risk Reduction Intervention through Defined Exercise). The American Journal of Cardiology, 100(12), 1759-1766.

Dunn, A.L., et al., (2005). Exercise treatment for depression: Efficacy and dose response. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 28(1), 1-8.

Kraus, W.E., et al., (2002). Effects of the Amount and Intensity of Exercise on Plasma Lipoproteins. New England Journal of Medicine, 347(19), 1483-1492.

Ishikawa-Takata, K., T. Ohta, and H. Tanaka, (2003). How much exercise is required to reduce blood pressure in essential hypertensives: a dose–response study. American Journal of Hypertension, 16(8), 629-633.


Copyright (c) 2017 Journal of Human Sport and Exercise

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.