Vagally Derived Heart Rate Variability and Training Perturbations With Menses in Female Collegiate Rowers


Introduction: The parasympathetically derived marker of heart rate variability, root mean square of successive R-R differences (RMSSD), and the daily fluctuations as measured by the coefficient of variation (RMSSDCV) may be useful for tracking training adaptations in athletic populations. These vagally derived markers of heart rate variability may be especially pertinent when simultaneously considering a female athlete's menstrual cycle. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to observe the perturbations in RMSSDcv, while considering RMSSD, across a season in the presence and absence of menses with training load in female collegiate rowers. Methods: Thirty-six (20 [1] y, 25.6 [3.4] kg.m(-2)) National Collegiate Athletic Association Division female rowers were monitored for 18 consecutive weeks across a full season. Seated, ultrashortened RMSSD measurements were obtained by the rowers on at least 3 mornings per week using a smartphone photoplethysmography device. Following the RMSSD measurement, athletes indicated the presence or absence of menstruation within the application. Individual meters rowed that week and sessions rate of perceived exertion were obtained to quantify training load. Results: Longitudinal mixedeffects modeling demonstrated a significant effect of menses and time, while also considering RMSSD, such that those who were on their period had a significantly greater RMSSDcv than those who were not (11.2% vs 7.5%, respectively; P < .001). These changes were independent of meters rowed, sessions rate of perceived exertion, body mass index, birth-control use, and years of rowing experience, which were all nonsignificant predictors of RMSSDCgV (P > .05). Conclusion: The presence of menses appears to significantly impact RMSSDCV when also considering RMSSD, which may allow coaches to consider individualized training plans accordingly.

female athletes, RMSSD, athlete monitoring, longitudinal data analysis, sport performance, MENSTRUAL-CYCLE PHASE, PERFORMANCE, LOAD, SENSITIVITY, ADAPTATION, INDEXES, PLAYERS, Physiology, Sport Sciences
Sherman, S. R., Holmes, C. J., Demos, A. P., Stone, T., Hornikel, B., MacDonald, H. V., Fedewa, M. V., & Esco, M. R. (2022). Vagally Derived Heart Rate Variability and Training Perturbations With Menses in Female Collegiate Rowers. In International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance (Vol. 17, Issue 3, pp. 432–439). Human Kinetics.