Cardiomuscular recovery refers to the time it takes for your heart rate and other vital signs to return to a normal, resting level following exercise. It is an important metric in the assessment of cardiovascular and muscular fitness levels, and some studies have linked it to a person’s risk for various health conditions.
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The measurement of cardiac recovery involves tracking your heart rate and beat-to-beat variability (heart rate variability). While the immediate recovery of HR is attributed to parasympathetic reactivation, the slow phase of HR recovery is related to withdrawal of sympathetic outflow, lasting upward of 90 minutes after the cessation of exercise. To find out more, click here
A low value for heart rate recovery can be associated with higher blood pressure, obesity and high cholesterol. It is also a strong predictor of mortality. In one of the most cited studies, Cole et al, patients with an abnormally low value for recovery heart rate had twice the risk of death than those with a normal value.
In a fitness test such as the YMCA submaximal fitness test, a clinician is typically looking for a peak exercise heart rate that is below your age-predicted maximum heart rate and a drop of 12 to 22 beats per minute in one minute after a workout.
A lower heart rate recovery may be associated with a healthier lifestyle and a lower risk of certain health conditions. However, it is important to talk with your healthcare provider before starting a new exercise routine, especially for those who have chronic health conditions or are older in age.