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Water Treadmill Parameters Needed to Obtain Land Treadmill Intensities in Runners


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: April 2010 - Volume 42 - Issue 4 - p 733-738
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181bdc485
Basic Sciences

Purpose: To establish water treadmill running parameters with shoes (WTR-S) and without water shoes (WTR-NS) needed to obtain known land treadmill running (LTR) cardiorespiratory responses.

Methods: Eighteen trained college-aged runners participated in three running conditions (LTR, WTR-S, and WTR-NS) where cardiorespiratory responses were measured. The primary variables of interest were V˙O2, HR, treadmill speed, and stride frequency (SF). These variables were assessed at 50%, 60%, 70%, and 80% equivalents of land V˙O2max for all three running conditions.

Results: Data were centered; so in the analysis, intercepts were calculated within the range of data. At an HR of 150 bpm, V˙O2 was significantly less (P < 0.05) during LTR (34.6 mL·kg−1·min−1) compared with WTR-S (37.5 mL·kg−1·min−1) and WTR-NS (37.2 mL·kg−1·min−1). HR was approximately 7 bpm less during WTR compared with LTR, although the metabolic demand (V˙O2) was similar. At a treadmill speed of 160.9 m·min−1, SF during LTR was 23.6 strides per minute greater (P < 0.05) than that during WTR-S and 21.8 strides per minute greater than that during WTR-NS. Wearing water shoes increased V˙O2 by 4.12 mL·kg−1·min−1 at any given water treadmill speed.

Conclusions: To achieve metabolic oxygen demands equivalent to intensities from 50% to 80% of V˙O2max on LTR, WTR parameters have to be changed from those used on LTR. WTR is an effective alternative to LTR. Subjects were able to exercise on the water treadmill at intensities equivalent to 80% of their V˙O2max and 55% to 94% of their land HRmax. Individuals can select a treadmill speed during WTR that elicits an HR of approximately 7 bpm less than their LTR to obtain a cardiorespiratory overload equivalent to 50%, 60%, 70%, and 80% of their land V˙O2max.

1Department of Exercise Sciences, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT; and 2Department of Statistics, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT

Address for correspondence: Joseph William Myrer, Ph.D., 120-G RB, Department of Exercise Sciences, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84602; E-mail:

Submitted for publication March 2009.

Accepted for publication August 2009.

©2010The American College of Sports Medicine