EFFECTS OF A WEIGHTED VEST DURING STEADY-RATE WALKING IN MEN AND WOMEN : Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise

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EFFECTS OF A WEIGHTED VEST DURING STEADY-RATE WALKING IN MEN AND WOMEN

Jiménez, L1; Engels, H-J FACSM1; Wirth, J C.1

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Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: May 2003 - Volume 35 - Issue 5 - p S155
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The use of light external loads to augment the fitness gains of ordinary walking exercise remains popular. In addition to hand, wrist, and ankle weights, a number of so-called “walking fitness vests,” designed to allow for variable external loading directly on the body's torso, are now marketed to consumers. To date, only limited research exists about the efficacy of this novel fitness accessory to enhance the physiological demand of walking. Moreover, there are questions whether the responses to walking with and without loads are similar in men and women.

PURPOSE

This study compared the effects of external loading with an adjustable weighted vest during steady-rate walking exercise in men and women.

METHODS

Twenty-four healthy subjects (12 men and 12 women; age 25.8± 5.2 yrs) participated in six 10-min level-surface treadmill walking trials at a constant 3 mph speed without and while wearing a weighted vest loaded at 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25% of their body weight. The order of the six trials was randomized using a counterbalanced format. Respiratory gas exchange (VO2, RER) was measured by indirect calorimetry, heart rate (HR) by electrocardiography (R-R wave), and ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) using the original Borg scale.

RESULTS

A two-way (gender by load) mixed design ANOVA revealed significant differences for VO2 (ml/kg/min), HR (beats/min), and RPE scores among the different load conditions (p < 0.01). Post-hoc analysis for load condition using Scheffé's test showed that comparisons between specific means invariably were significant (p < 0.05) as long as non-neighboring load conditions were involved. In contrast, RER values remained similar among trials (p > 0.05). Further, no significant gender specific differences were observed for any of the variables examined (p > 0.05).

CONCLUSION

The present data suggest that men and women exhibit similar responses to steady-rate level walking with a weighted vest loaded up to 25% of their body weight. From a quantitative perspective, considerable loading is required to effectively augment the physiological demand of walking exercise using this specific approach.

©2003The American College of Sports Medicine