News & Views from the Editor-in-Chief - L. Bruce Gladden
The papers I am highlighting in this month's journal cross a range of interests. First, Barhorst and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis of 37 case-control studies examining perceived exertion (RPE) responses to aerobic exercise in individuals with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME/CFS) or Fibromyalgia (FM), two chronic multisymptom, moderately comorbid conditions primarily characterized by fatigue and musculoskeletal pain, respectively. The authors found a large effect indicating higher RPE in ME/CFS and FM patients than healthy controls despite observing that patients exhibited lower heart rate responses to exercise in a majority of included studies. The large magnitude of this psychobiological phenomenon highlights a need for further exploration of pathophysiological mechanisms of ME/CFS and FM and adds perspective to the broader debate about the nature of central and/or peripheral signals that influence RPE.
Second, Smyth and Muniz-Pumares used training data from more than 25,000 recreational runners to calculate their critical speed (CS), and predict performance and pacing during a marathon. The authors calculated CS using the relationship between distance, ranging from 400-m to 5,000-m, and time, recorded in the weeks leading up to the marathon and found that CS predicted marathon performance with greater than 92% accuracy. Faster runners completed the marathon at about 93% CS while slower runners ran at 79% CS. In addition, runners who completed the first part of the marathon closer to, or faster than their CS were more likely to slow down later in the marathon. This study suggests that CS determined from training data can predict marathon performance and assist runners with pacing.
Third and last, Wilkinson et al. measured vertical displacement of the body's center of mass during nonseated cycling at various combinations of power output and cadence. They found that cyclists increased center of mass vertical motion at higher power outputs but raised and lowered their center of mass during the same phases of the crank cycle under all conditions. This phasing of vertical motion appears to be a movement strategy to facilitate an exchange of mechanical energy to the crank; theoretically at rates as high as 18% of peak crank power. These findings suggest that cyclists can utilize vertical motion of their center of mass to reduce the required contribution of the muscles to overall mechanical power output requirements.
L. Bruce Gladden
School of Kinesiology