Excessive sports training can have negative effects on the state of mind


Summary: Intense sports training can be good for the body, but it’s not always so good for the mind. The researchers found that the more intense a workout, the lower the variability in mood and heart rate the next day.

Source: UAB

To build fitness, athletes must apply stress to the body, and then, through recovery, the body adapts and is able to handle greater stress in the next training cycle. Controlling adequate amounts of stress and recovery is key to improving athlete performance, as well as preventing injuries and problems associated with overtraining.

Researchers from the Sport Psychology Laboratory and the UAB Sport Research Institute studied the effects of training intensity on road cyclists in terms of mood states and their ability to adapt to higher training loads, assessed using heart rate variability (HRV).

The research, published in the journal PeerJ, was conducted through a six-week analysis of the responses of five recreational cyclists about the physical stress they endured while training. Once finished, the cyclists also answered questionnaires about how they perceived the physical exertion of their training. The next morning, they measured their HRV and recorded their mood.

The researchers argue that a change in mood and/or HRV – measured using the HFnu parameter (high frequency band normalized) – in athletes the day after training could serve as an indicator of the intensity of training, indicating whether the training was adequate or too intense for the physical condition of the athlete.

The study observed that the more intense the training, the worse the mood the next day, and also the lower the HRV. In contrast, high HFnu was associated with improved mood in athletes, indicating that there is a relationship between HRV and mood states.

“The objective of the research was to explore the relationship between three aspects: training, heart rate variability and mood,” explains Carla Alfonso, researcher in the Department of Basic Psychology at UAB.

The study observed that the more intense the training, the worse the mood the next day, and also the lower the HRV. Image is in public domain

“With this study, we sought to know when an athlete must rest, because his system is saturated, and when an athlete can train, with more or less intensity, because his body is ready to assimilate the training load.”

The results obtained are a first step in “the establishment of a monitoring system that takes into account both internal and external training loads, as well as the mood and heart rate variability of the patient. athlete, with the aim of helping him adapt to his training and prevent injuries that can come with overtraining”, concludes Professor Lluís Capdevila of the Department of Fundamental, Developmental and Educational Psychology of the UAB, and co- author of the study.

About this exercise and current mood research

Author: Press office
Source: UAB
Contact: Press office – UAB
Image: Image is in public domain

Original research: Free access.
Heart rate variability, mood and performance: a pilot study on the interrelation of these variables in recreational road cyclists” by Carla Alfonso et al. PeerJ

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Heart rate variability, mood and performance: a pilot study on the interrelation of these variables in recreational road cyclists


The present study aims to explore the relationship between measures of cycling training on a given day and heart rate variability (HRV) and mood states obtained the next morning. The association between HRV and mood is also investigated, as is the relationship between internal and external measures of training.


Over a 6-week period, five recreational road cyclists collected 123 recordings of morning HRV and morning mood, and 66 recordings of training power and rate of perceived exertion (RPE). Training power was used as an external measure of performance and RPE as an internal measure of performance. The HRV parameters used in the study were the average of RR intervals (average RR) and the standard deviation of all RR intervals (SDNN) as analysis in the time domain, and the normalized high frequency band (HFnu), the band normalized low frequency (LFnu) and the ratio between the low and high frequency bands, as an analysis in the frequency domain. Mood was measured using a 10-point cognitive scale.


It was found that the higher the drive power on a given day, the lower the HFnu and the higher the LF/HF the next morning. At the same time, the results showed an inverse relationship between training and mood, so the harder a workout, the worse the mood the next day. A relationship between morning HRV and mood was also found, such that the higher the mean RR and HFnu, the more positive the mood (r = 0.497 and r = 0.420 respectively; p p


Overall, the results indicate a relationship between cyclists’ training on a given day and their morning HRV and mood state the following day. Mood and HRV also appear to be positively related. It is argued that the development of a monitoring system that takes into account external and internal training loads, as well as morning mood, could help understand the state of the individual, allowing feedback. information to athletes to facilitate adaptation to training and prevent problems associated with overtraining. However, further research is needed to better understand the association between the different variables considered.


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