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J Rehabil Med. 2003 Mar;35(2):91-7.

Influence of weight loss programmes on walking speed and relative oxygen cost (%VO2max) in obese women during walking.

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  • 1Neurotec Department, Division of Physiotherapy, Karolinska Institutet, Huddinge, Sweden.



The objective was to investigate effects of dieted weight reduction on walking ability in obese women.


Fifty-seven obese women 44.1 +/- 10.7 years, body mass index 37.1 +/- 3.4 kg x m(-2) performed an indoor walking test. Speed, oxygen consumption and heart rate were measured, perceived exertion and pain graded and oxygen cost calculated. Maximum oxygen uptake (VO2max/kg) was predicted from a submaximum bicycle ergometry test. All tests were measured at baseline, after 12 weeks' weight reduction and after 52 weeks' maintenance.


Despite a partial weight relapse, improvements were seen in body mass index, self-selected walking speed, VO2max/kg, heart rate, perceived exertion and relative oxygen cost of walking (% VO2max).


A modest weight reduction of 10% in moderately-to-severely obese women significantly improved their walking ability, perceived exertion and %VO2max. When dealing with obese women, attention should be drawn to these positive effects, instead of focusing only on the magnitude of the weight loss.

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