American Medical Society for Sports Medicine
For Immediate Release May 10, 2005

OVERLAND PARK, KANSAS:  When people exercise they stress their cardiovascular systems. After each workout this systems recovers and over time gets stronger. According to Dr. David Berkoff of Duke University, who presented new research at the annual meeting of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine in Austin, Texas, having a way to look into this system and monitor the stress and recovery is an important piece to tailoring an efficient and effective training plan. Additionally, when our system becomes overtaxed or sick, a method to detect and monitor this would be useful. 

Heart rate variability is a measurement of small changes in the time between each beat of the heart. In a healthy system there is variability from one beat to the next. This variability is controlled by our autonomic nervous system and we now have devised mathematical calculations to use these time intervals to calculate the autonomic (parasympathetic and sympathetic) stress on our cardiac systems. It is known that when a person is stressed or sick, heart rate variability decreases. Similarly it has been shown that exercise increases this variability.

The Duke study was performed on athletes competing at the USA Track and Field Olympic Trials to see if athletes competing at the elite level maintain, decrease, or increase changes in heart rate variability as compared to regular recreational athletes. We found that elite athletes significantly increased their heart rate variability measures as compared to recreationally active people. The hope is that this information will be a building block to further understand and utilize these measures in the future, in order to improve training and reduce injury and overtraining in all athletes, as well as to help understand the way our cardiac system responds to stress and apply this to a variety of medical conditions as well.

The American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) was organized in 1991 by physicians who recognized the need for an organization within the field of sports medicine that approached athletes, exercising individuals, and teams comprehensively with consultative and continuous care of their orthopedic, medical, nutritional, and psychosocial issues. Although sports medicine concepts are often thought of in conjunction with professional and elite athletes, these concepts apply to athletes of all levels including grade school, high school, college and recreational athletes. AMSSM is comprised of over 900 Sports Medicine Physicians whose goal is to provide a link between the rapidly expanding core of knowledge related to sports medicine and its application to patients in a clinical setting.

NOTE: For more information, please contact the AMSSM, 11639 Earnshaw, Overland Park, KS 66210, (913) 327-1415 or [email protected] .

NOTE: For more information, please contact the AMSSM, 4000 W. 114th St., Suite 100, Leawood, KS 66211, (913) 327-1415.

© The American Medical Society for Sports Medicine
4000 W. 114th Street, Suite 100
Leawood, KS 66211
Phone: 913.327.1415

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