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Impact of Aerobic Training on Cardiovascular Reactivity to and Recovery From Challenge

Sloan, Richard P. PhD; Shapiro, Peter A. MD; DeMeersman, Ronald E. PhD; Bagiella, Emilia PhD; Brondolo, Elizabeth N. PhD; McKinley, Paula S. PhD; Crowley, Olga PhD; Zhao, Yihong PhD; Schwartz, Joseph E. PhD; Myers, Michael M. PhD

doi: 10.1097/PSY.0b013e31820a1174
Original Articles

Objective: To test the hypothesis that aerobic, but not strength, training would lead to attenuated reactivity to and more rapid recovery from cognitive and orthostatic challenge and that deconditioning would reverse this effect.

Methods: We conducted a randomized controlled trial contrasting the effects of aerobic versus strength training on heart rate, four indices of RR interval variability, and blood pressure reactivity to and recovery from psychological and orthostatic challenge in 149 healthy, young, sedentary adults. Subjects were randomized to 12-week aerobic or strength training programs and studied before and after training and again after 4 weeks of sedentary deconditioning. The data were analyzed by performing a Group (aerobic versus strength) by Session (study entry, post training, and deconditioning), by Period (baseline, speech, Stroop, math, tilt) three-way analysis of variance with prespecified contrasts of the effect of group assignment on reactivity and recovery.

Results: Aerobic capacity increased in response to conditioning and decreased after deconditioning in the aerobic, but not the strength, training group. However, the two groups did not differ on heart rate, RR interval variability, or blood pressure reactivity to or recovery from laboratory challenge.

Conclusions: These findings, from the largest randomized controlled trial to address this matter to date, raise doubts about attenuation of reactivity or enhancement of recovery as a putative mechanism underlying the cardioprotective effects of aerobic exercise.

Trial Registration: Identifier: NCT00365196.

RCT = randomized controlled trial; RRV = RR interval variability; BP = blood pressure; SBP = systolic blood pressure; DBP = diastolic blood pressure; CAD = coronary artery disease; HR = heart rate; ECG = electrocardiogram; HF = high frequency; AUC = area under the curve; ln = natural log.

From the Divisions of Behavioral Medicine (R.P.S., P.S.M., O.C., Y.Z.) and Consultation/Liaison Psychiatry (P.A.S.), Departments of Psychiatry and Rehabilitation Medicine (R.E.D.), Columbia University, New York, New York; Division of Biostatistics (E.B.), Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, New York; Department of Psychology (E.N.B.), St. John's University, Jamaica, New York; New York State Psychiatric Institute (R.P.S., P.S.M., M.M.M.), New York, New York; and the Department of Medicine (J.E.S.), Columbia University Medical Center, New York, New York.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Richard P. Sloan, PhD, Division of Behavioral Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University, 1150 St. Nicholas Avenue, Suite 121, New York, NY 10032. E-mail

Received for publication April 21, 2010; revision received October 6, 2010.

This study was supported in part by Independent Scientist Award K02 MH01491 from the National Institute of Mental Health, R01 HL61287 from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, M01-RR00645 from the General Clinical Research Centers Program of the National Institutes of Health, and the Nathaniel Wharton Fund.

Copyright © 2011 by American Psychosomatic Society
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