The aim of this paper is to investigate the cardiorespiratory synchronization in athletes subjected to extreme physical stress combined with a cognitive stress tasks. ECG and respiration were measured in 14 athletes before and after the Ironman competition. Stroop test was applied between the measurements before and after the Ironman competition to induce cognitive stress. Synchrogram and empirical mode decomposition analysis were used for the first time to investigate the effects of physical stress, induced by the Ironman competition, on the phase synchronization of the cardiac and respiratory systems of Ironman athletes before and after the competition. A cognitive stress task (Stroop test) was performed both pre- and post-Ironman event in order to prevent the athletes from cognitively controlling their breathing rates. Our analysis showed that cardiorespiratory synchronization increased post-Ironman race compared to pre-Ironman. The results suggest that the amount of stress the athletes are recovering from post-competition is greater than the effects of the Stroop test. This indicates that the recovery phase after the competition is more important for restoring and maintaining homeostasis, which could be another reason for stronger synchronization.
- empirical mode decomposed
- respiratory signal