European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 119, Issue 9, pp 2095–2103 | Cite as

Effect of different doses of supervised aerobic exercise on heart rate recovery in inactive adults who are overweight or obese: results from E-MECHANIC

  • Christoph Höchsmann
  • James L. Dorling
  • John W. Apolzan
  • Neil M. Johannsen
  • Daniel S. Hsia
  • Timothy S. Church
  • Corby K. MartinEmail author
Original Article



Heart rate recovery (HRR) after exercise is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease and mortality. Regular aerobic exercise can improve HRR, yet little is known regarding the dose necessary to promote increases. The aim was to assess the impact of different doses of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise on HRR in individuals with overweight/obesity.


Data from 137 sedentary adults with overweight/obesity from E-MECHANIC were analyzed. Participants were randomized to either a moderate-dose exercise group (8 kcal/kg body weight/week; KKW), a high-dose exercise group (20 KKW), or a non-exercise control group. HRR was defined as the difference between peak heart rate (HR) during a graded exercise test and the HR after exactly 1 min of active recovery at 1.5 mph and level grade.


Change in HRR did not differ significantly by exercise group; therefore, the data from both exercise groups were combined. The combined exercise group showed an improvement in HRR of 2.7 bpm (95% CI 0.1, 5.4; p = 0.04) compared to the control group. Those participants who lost more weight during the intervention (non-compensators) increased HRR by 6.2 bpm (95% CI 2.8, 9.5; p < 0.01) compared to those who lost less weight (compensators). Multiple linear regression models indicated that improvements in HRR are independently associated with increases in VO2peak (β = 0.4; 95% CI 0.1, 0.7; p = 0.04) but also influenced by concomitant weight loss (β = 0.6; 95% CI 0.2, 1.1; p = 0.01).


Exercise-induced improvements in 1-min HRR are likely due to increases in cardiorespiratory fitness as well as concomitant weight loss.


Heart rate recovery Exercise Aerobic capacity Weight loss Autonomic function 



Analysis of covariance


Body mass index


Beats per minute


Confidence interval


The Examination of Mechanisms of Exercise-Induced Weight Compensation


Heart rate


Heart rate recovery


Kilocalories per kilogram of body weight per week


Metabolic equivalents


Miles per hour


Ratings of perceived exertion


Standard deviation


Peak oxygen uptake



The authors would like to thank participants for their time and commitment to the study.

Author contributions

CKM and TSC conceptualized and designed the study. DSH, NMJ, and JWA were responsible for data collection. CH performed statistical analyses and wrote the manuscript. CH, JD, and CKM interpreted the data and prepared the results for publication. All authors reviewed and edited the manuscript and approved the final version for publication.


Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institutes of Health via the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute with the Multiple Principal Investigators being C. Martin and T. Church (R01 HL102166); NORC Center Grant P30 DK072476, entitled “Nutritional Programming: Environmental and Molecular Interactions” sponsored by NIDDK; and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, which funds the Louisiana Clinical and Translational Science Center (U54 GM104940). C. Höchsmann is funded by an NIH NIDDK National Research Service Award (T32 DK064584).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors report no conflicts of interests related to this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Pennington Biomedical Research CenterBaton RougeUSA
  2. 2.Louisiana State UniversityBaton RougeUSA
  3. 3.ACAP HealthDallasUSA

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