Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research
On-line version ISSN 1414-431X
SILVA, E. et al. Evaluation of electromyographic activity and heart rate responses to isometric exercise. The role played by muscular mass and type. Braz J Med Biol Res [online]. 1999, vol.32, n.1, pp.115-120. ISSN 1414-431X. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0100-879X1999000100017.
The purpose of the present study was to examine the relationship between the electromyographic (EMG) activity and heart rate (HR) responses induced by isometric exercise performed by knee extension (KE) and flexion (KF) in men. Fifteen healthy male subjects, 21 ± 1.3 years (mean ± SD), were submitted to KE and KF isometric exercise tests at 100% of maximal voluntary contraction (MVC). The exercises were performed with one leg (right or left) and with two legs simultaneously, for 10 s in the sitting position with the hip and knee flexed at 90o. EMG activity (root mean square values) and HR (beats/min) were recorded simultaneously both at rest and throughout the sustained contraction. The HR responses to isometric exercise in KE and KF were similar when performed with one and two legs. However, the HR increase was always significantly higher in KE than KF (P<0.05), whereas the EMG activity was higher in KE than in KF (P<0.05), regardless of the muscle mass (one or two legs) involved in the effort. The correlation coefficients between HR response and the EMG activity during KE (r = 0.33, P>0.05) and KF (r = 0.15, P>0.05) contractions were not significant. These results suggest that the predominant mechanism responsible for the larger increase in HR response to KE as compared to KF in our study could be dependent on qualitative and quantitative differences in the fiber type composition found in each muscle group. This mechanism seems to demand a higher activation of motor units with a corresponding increase in central command to the cardiovascular centers that modulate HR control.
Keywords : knee; isometric exercise; heart rate; electromyography; rectus femoris; biceps femoris.