A new heart rate variability-based method for the estimation of oxygen consumption without individual laboratory calibration: application example on postal workers.
In this study the validity of using heart rate (HR) responses to estimate oxygen uptake (VO2) during varying non-steady state activities was investigated. Dynamic and static exercise engaging large and small muscle masses were studied in four different experiments. In the first experiment, 16 subjects performed an interval test on a cycle ergometer, and 12 subjects performed a field test consisting of various dynamic leg exercises. Simultaneous HR and VO2 measurements were made. Linear regression analyses revealed high correlations between HR and VO2 during both the interval test (r = 0.90 +/- 0.07) and the field test (r = 0.94 +/- 0.04). In the second experiment, 14 non-wheelchair-bound subjects performed both an interval wheelchair test on a motor driven treadmill, and a wheelchair field test consisting of dynamic and static arm exercise. Significant relationships were found for all subjects during both the interval test (r = 0.91 +/- 0.06) and the field test (r = 0.86 +/- 0.09). During non-steady state exercise using both arms and legs in a third experiment, contradictory results were found. For 11 of the 15 subjects who performed a field test consisting of various nursing tasks no significant relationship between HR and VO2 was found (r = 0.42 +/- 0.16). All tasks required almost the same physiological strain, which induced a small range in data points. In a fourth experiment, the influence of a small data range on the HR-VO2 relationship was investigated: five subjects performed a field test that involved both low and high physiological strain, non-steady state arm and leg exercise. Significant relationships were found for all subjects (r = 0.86 +/- 0.04). Although the r-values found in this study were less than under steady state conditions, it can be concluded that VO2 may be estimated from individual HR-VO2 regression lines during non-steady state exercise.