||A high heart rate and a low heart rate variability at rest are established predictors of various forms of functional impairment, morbidity, and mortality [1–6]. Two explanations can be given for these associations. On one hand, a high heart rate and a low heart rate variability are thought to reflect dysfunction of the flexible autonomic regulation of the heart rate in particular and of the body's functioning in general that arises during ageing [3–5]. On the other hand, a high heart rate and a low heart rate variability are brought about by cardiovascular risk factors, such as obesity, hyperlipidaemia, diabetes, hypertension, and physical inactivity [2,3,7–9]. Since research on heart rate and heart rate variability has almost exclusively been conducted in western populations with an affluent sedentary lifestyle and high prevalences of these risk factors, it has been difficult to determine whether or not heart rate and heart rate variability are associated with functional impairment, morbidity, and mortality independently of cardiovascular risk factors.