Physical activity and resting pulse rate in older adults: Findings from a randomized controlled trial

Academic Article


  • Background Elevated resting pulse rate (RPR) is a well-recognized risk factor for adverse outcomes. Epidemiological evidence supports the beneficial effects of regular exercise for lowering RPR, but studies are mainly confined to persons younger than 65 years. We set out to evaluate the utility of a physical activity (PA) intervention for slowing RPR among older adults. Methods A total of 424 seniors (ages 70-89 years) were randomized to a moderate intensity PA intervention or an education-based "successful aging" health program. Resting pulse rate was assessed at baseline, 6 months, and 12 months. Longitudinal differences in RPR were evaluated between treatment groups using generalized estimating equation models, reporting unstandardized β coefficients with robust SEs. Results Increased frequency and duration of aerobic training were observed for the PA group at 6 and 12 months as compared with the successful aging group (P <.001). In both groups, RPR remained unchanged over the course of the 12-month study period (P =.67). No significant improvement was observed (β [SE] = 0.58 [0.88]; P =.51) for RPR when treatment groups were compared using the generalized estimating equation method. Comparable results were found after omitting participants with a pacemaker, cardiac arrhythmia, or who were receiving β-blockers. Conclusions Twelve months of moderate intensity aerobic training did not improve RPR among older adults. Additional studies are needed to determine whether PA of longer duration and/or greater intensity can slow RPR in older persons.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 9869957
  • Author List

  • O'Hartaigh B; Pahor M; Buford TW; Dodson JA; Forman DE; Gill TM
  • Start Page

  • 597
  • End Page

  • 604
  • Volume

  • 168
  • Issue

  • 4