Synchronizing Gait with Cardiac Cycle Phase Alters Heart Rate Response during Running

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Timing foot strike to occur in synchrony with cardiac diastole may reduce left ventricular afterload and promote coronary and skeletal muscle perfusion.PurposeThis study aimed to assess heart rate (HR) and metabolic responses to running when foot strikes are timed to occur exclusively during 1) the systolic phase of the cardiac cycle or 2) the diastolic phase.MethodsTen elite male distance runners performed a testing session on a treadmill at 4.72 m·s−1 while matching their steps to an auditory tone and wearing a chest strap that transmitted accelerometer and ECG signals. Testing comprised eight prompted 3-min stages, where a real-time adaptive auditory tone guided subjects to step with each ECG R-wave (systolic stepping) or alternatively, at 45% of each R-R interval (diastolic stepping), followed by a 3-min unprompted control stage. Metabolic variables were measured continuously.ResultsHR (P < 0.001) and minute ventilation (P < 0.001) were significantly lower during diastolic stepping compared with systolic stepping, whereas O2 pulse (P < 0.001) was correspondingly significantly higher during diastolic stepping.ConclusionSynchronizing foot strikes when running to the diastolic portion of the cardiac cycle results in a significantly reduced HR and minute ventilation compared with stepping during systole. This cardiac and ventilatory response to diastolic stepping may be beneficial to distance running performance.

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