Objective: The aim of this work was to investigate the cardiorespiratory responses of patients with subacute stroke to exercise stress tests with aquatic and land treadmills.
Design: Twenty-one consecutive patients who presented with first-ever subacute stroke in 2013–2015. All subjects underwent symptom-limited incremental exercise testing with aquatic and land treadmills. Land treadmill speed started at 1.5 km/h and increased 0.5 km/h every 1 to 2 minutes until maximal tolerable speed was achieved. Thereafter, the grade was elevated by 2% every 2 minutes. In the aquatic treadmill test, subjects were submerged to the xiphoid in 28°C water. Treadmill speed started at 1.5 km/h and was increased 0.5 km/h every 2 minutes thereafter. Cardiorespiratory responses were recorded with aquatic and land treadmills.
Results: Compared to land treadmill exercise, aquatic treadmill exercise achieved significantly better peak VO2 (22.0 vs 20.0; P = 0.02), peak metabolic equivalents (6.3 vs 5.8; P = 0.02), and peak rating of perceived exertion (17.6 vs 18.4, P = 0.01). Heart rate and VO2 correlated significantly during both tests (land treadmill: r = 0.96, P < 0.001; aquatic treadmill: r = 0.99, P < 0.001).
Conclusions: Aquatic treadmill exercise elicited significantly better peak cardiorespiratory responses than land treadmill exercise and may be as effective for early intensive aerobic training in subacute stroke patients.
From the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Jeju National University School of Medicine, Jeju National University Hospital, Jeju, Republic of Korea.
All correspondence and requests for reprints should be addressed to: Bo Ryun Kim, MD, PhD, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Jeju National University Hospital, Aran 13 gil 15, Jeju-si, Jeju, 690-767, Republic of Korea.
The authors certify that no party having a direct interest in the results of the research supporting this article has or will confer a benefit on them or on any organization with which they are associated.
The authors received no funding for this work.
Financial disclosure statements have been obtained, and no conflicts of interest have been reported by the authors or by any individuals in control of the content of this article.