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Eur J Pediatr. 2013 Sep;172(9):1191-6. doi: 10.1007/s00431-013-2025-4. Epub 2013 May 5.

Exercise modality and metabolic efficiency in children.

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Department of Medicine, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands.


Current exercise prescription guidelines for children recommend at least 60 min of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity every day. However, little is known about the efficacy of different cardiorespiratory exercise modalities prescribed to the pediatric cohort. Sixteen healthy children (8-12 years) completed 5-min trials of treadmill walking, cycling, and elliptical training in a randomized order. The treadmill walking speed was determined from measurements collected during a self-selected walking trial. The workloads for treadmill walking, cycling, and elliptical training were matched (40.3 W). Mechanical efficiency (ME%), perceived exertion (RPE), oxygen uptake, metabolic equivalents, and net energy expenditure were measured. ME% in walking was significantly higher than in cycling (P = 0.001) and elliptical training (P < 0.001), and cycling was significantly higher than elliptical training (P = 0.003). RPE in walking was significantly lower than in elliptical training (P = 0.006) but not from cycling (P = 0.314), and cycling resulted in significantly lower RPE than elliptical training (P = 0.021).


Treadmill walking appears to be the most efficacious exercise prescription for otherwise healthy children; however, longitudinal studies need to be implemented to investigate the long-term benefits of each exercise modality.

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