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Comparison of the Cardiovascular Effects of Extreme Psychological and Physical Stress Tests in Male Soccer Players

Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pécs, 7621 Pécs, Hungary
Department of Health Sciences and Sport Medicine, University of Physical Education, 1123 Budapest, Hungary
International Training Centre, 1126 Budapest, Hungary
I-QRS International Ltd., 1165 Budapest, Hungary
Medical Centers, Amsterdam University, 1081 Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Department of Laboratory Medicine, Semmelweis University, 1089 Budapest, Hungary
Szentágothai Research Centre, University of Pécs, 7624 Pécs, Hungary
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(2), 715;
Submission received: 22 November 2021 / Revised: 31 December 2021 / Accepted: 4 January 2022 / Published: 9 January 2022
(This article belongs to the Topic Long-Term Health Monitoring with Physiological Signals)


Background: The purpose of our study was to compare the physiological effects of extreme physical and psychological stress tests in male soccer players, since these two types of stress apply to athletes with high performance requirements. Methods: A total of 63 healthy male soccer players participated in this study, all of whom underwent both of the tests. A physical stress test was carried out in an exercise physiology laboratory, where subjects completed an incremental treadmill running test to full exhaustion, and a psychological test was performed in a military tactical room, where subjects met a street offence situation. Heart rate variability (HRV) and blood pressure (BP) were recorded directly before, immediately after, and 30 min after the stress tests. Results: The majority of HRV indices changed significantly in both stress protocols. Inverse, significant changes (positive for the physical test, negative for the psychological test, p < 0.001) were found when comparing the alterations of HRV indices between the tests. Significant differences were found in the changes in systolic (p = 0.003) and diastolic (p < 0.001) BP between the test protocols, and also between the baseline and post-test measurements (p < 0.001). Conclusion: Both HRV and BP are sensitive physiological parameters to measure the impact of extreme physical and/or psychological stress