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

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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.


Ten elite male distance runners performed a testing session on a treadmill at 4.72 m[BULLET OPERATOR]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 three-minute 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 three-minute unprompted control stage. Metabolic variables were measured continuously.


HR (p < 0.001) and minute ventilation (p < 0.001) were significantly lower during diastolic stepping compared to systolic stepping, while O2 pulse (p < 0.001) was correspondingly significantly higher during diastolic stepping.


Synchronizing foot strikes when running to the diastolic portion of the cardiac cycle results in a significantly reduced HR and minute ventilation compared to stepping during systole. This cardiac and ventilatory response to diastolic stepping may be beneficial to distance running performance.

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