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J Cardiopulm Rehabil. 2006 Nov-Dec;26(6):391-4.

The effect of handrail support on oxygen uptake during steady-state treadmill exercise.

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  • 1Department of Exercise and Sport Science, University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, WI 54601, USA.



Heart rate (HR) and oxygen consumption (VO(2)) are indicators of the intensity of exercise. Handrail support has been shown, during maximal treadmill testing, to blunt HR and VO(2) responses at a particular speed and grade, resulting in an increased treadmill time and overprediction in aerobic capacity.


This study was designed to determine if handrail support would similarly blunt HR and VO(2) responses during steady-state treadmill exercise at intensities typical of exercise training.


Healthy volunteers (age, 38-60 years; N = 10) performed maximal treadmill exercise to define VO2max (35.4 +/- 6.5 mL kg(-1) min(-1)) and ventilatory threshold (26.4 +/- 5.8 mL kg(-1) min(-1)). They also performed 3 random steady-state exercise bouts including free arm swing, handrail support-resting, and handrail support-gripping (HRS-G). Each test consisted of three 5-minute stages with intensity levels corresponding to 75%, 85%, and 95% of the speed and grade at ventilatory threshold.


There were significant (P < .05) differences in HR and VO2 at the 75%, 85%, and 95% ventilatory thresholds in HRS-G (108, 114, and 121 beats min and 17.2, 18.0, and 20.6 mL kg min, respectively) versus handrail support-resting (114, 126, and 137 beats min and 19.5, 21.8, and 23.9 mL kg min, respectively) and HRS-G versus free arm swing (120, 130, and 142 beats min and 20.3, 22.8, and 26.1 mL kg min, respectively). Rating of perceived exertion was significantly (P < .05) different between HRS-G (1.8, 2.4, and 3.1) and free arm swing (2.2, 2.9, and 3.6) at all intensities and between HRS-G (2.4 and 3.1, respectively) and handrail support-resting (3 and 3.7, respectively) at the 85% and 95% ventilatory thresholds.


Gripping and, to a lesser degree, resting the hands on the handrails during steady-state treadmill walking will blunt responses during exercise training and may result in less predictable exercise program.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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