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Heart Rate Variability as an Indicator of Stress in Students’ Athletes

DOI: 10.4236/ojmp.2023.123009, PP. 141-149

Keywords: Heart Rate Variability, Level of Arousal, Stress in Students Athletes

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Abstract:

Introduction: The wellbeing of student’s athletes has a paramount importance, a prolonged period of cognitive and physical performance that characterizes the life of student’s athletes often leads to fatigue, and a psychobiological state that increases the risk of injury and accidents. The use of Heart rate variability (HRV) has become increasingly popular as a non-invasive methodology that provides an indirect insight into the autonomic nervous system. HRV can be utilized as a diagnostic tool in detection of autonomic nervous system impairment and sympatho-vagal imbalance. HRV technology is employed to monitor the internal response of athletes to workload and identify athletes’s psychophysical stress to predict and therefore prevent injuries. Objective: The objective of the investigation is to establish whether the use of Polar H10 sensor heart rate monitors worn by athletes in a sitting position (inclination 60 degrees) during periods characterized by stress can provide a valid and non-invasive method to assess the psychophysiological state during sports competition and school exams. Method and Statistics: In the study, the HRV of 12 basketball students athletes and 4 students non-athletes was analyzed as a control group. The autonomic nervous system activity was assessed based on heart variability parameters (HRV): SDNN, rMSSD, LF, HF, and LF/HF. The measurements were made after establishing the baseline at rest, during the training phase (CT), competition phase (CC) and during the acute phase of stressors due to school exams coinciding with the competitive season (CC + E). Results: Compared to the respective values prior to the stress of the competitions and exams, a significant decrease in HRV indices was found: SDNN (P < 0.039) and RMSSD (P < 0.005). A decrease in HF (P < 0.006) and an increase in LF (P < 0.012) were documented after the training phase and coinciding with the phases of sports competition and school exams. We observed during the training phase (CT) a significant increase in HRV values therefore consistent with a positive adaptive response to training stress alone. Conclusions: The analysis and examination of the data on the sample of the student population also showed a statistically significant correlation between decreased cardiac variability and injuries or indisposition to physical exertion.

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