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Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1998 Feb;77(3):278-84.

Cardiorespiratory responses to underwater treadmill walking in healthy females.

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Physiotherapy Department, Royal United Hospital, Bath, UK.


This study compared the cardiorespiratory responses of eight healthy women (mean age 30.25 years) to submaximal exercise on land (LTm) and water treadmills (WTm) in chest-deep water (Aquaciser). In addition, the effects of two different water temperatures were examined (28 and 36 degrees C). Each exercise test consisted of three consecutive 5-min bouts at 3.5, 4.5 and 5.5 km x h(-1). Oxygen consumption (VO2) and heart rate (HR), measured using open-circuit spirometry and telemetry, respectively, increased linearly with increasing speed both in water and on land. At 3.5 km x h(-1) VO2 was similar across procedures [chi = 0.6 (0.05) l x min(-1)]. At 4.5 and 5.5 km x h(-1) VO2 was significantly higher in water than on land, but there was no temperature effect (WTm: 0.9 and 1.4, respectively; LTm: 0.8 and 0.9 l x min(-1), respectively). HR was significantly higher in WTm at 36 degrees C compared to WTm at 28 degrees C at all speeds, and compared to LTm at 4.5 and 5.5 km x h(-1) (P < or = 0.003). The HR-VO2 relationship showed that at a VO2 of 0.9 l x min(-1) x HR was higher in water at 36 degrees C (115 beats x min[-1]) than either on land (100 beats min[-1]) or in water at 28 degrees C (99 beats x min[-1]). The Borg scale of perceived exertion showed that walking in water at 4.5 and 5.5 km x h(-1) was significantly harder than on land (WTm: 11.4 and 14, respectively; LTm: 9.9 and 11, respectively; P < or = 0.001). These cardiorespiratory changes occurred despite a slower cadence in water (the mean difference at all speeds was 27 steps/min). Thus, walking in chest-deep water yields higher energy costs than walking at similar speeds on land. This data has implications for therapists working in hydrotherapy pools.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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