Links between physical fitness and cardiovascular reactivity and recovery to psychological stressors: A meta-analysis

Kathleen Forcier, Laura R. Stroud, George D. Papandonatos, Brian Hitsman, Meredith Reiches, Jenelle Krishnamoorthy, Raymond Niaura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A meta-analysis of published studies with adult human participants was conducted to evaluate whether physical fitness attenuates cardiovascular reactivity and improves recovery from acute psychological stressors. Thirty-three studies met selection criteria; 18 were included in recovery analyses. Effect sizes and moderator influences were calculated by using meta-analysis software. A fixed effects model was fit initially; however, between-studies heterogeneity could not be explained even after inclusion of moderators. Therefore, to account for residual heterogeneity, a random effects model was estimated. Under this model, fit individuals showed significantly attenuated heart rate and systolic blood pressure reactivity and a trend toward attenuated diastolic blood pressure reactivity. Fit individuals also showed faster heart rate recovery, but there were no significant differences in systolic blood pressure or diastolic blood pressure recovery. No significant moderators emerged. Results have important implications for elucidating mechanisms underlying effects of fitness on cardiovascular disease and suggest that fitness may be an important confound in studies of stress reactivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)723-739
Number of pages17
JournalHealth Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2006


  • Cardiovascular reactivity
  • Cardiovascular recovery
  • Fitness
  • Review
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Links between physical fitness and cardiovascular reactivity and recovery to psychological stressors: A meta-analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this