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Cardiocirculatory and metabolic responses at different walking intensities


Objectives: Although walking is a common physical activity, scientifically based training guidelines using standardised tests have not been established. Therefore this explorative study investigated the cardiovascular and metabolic load resulting from different walking intensities derived from maximal velocity (Vmax) during an incremental treadmill walking test.

Methods: Oxygen uptake, heart rate (HR), blood concentrations of lactate and catecholamines, and rating of perceived exertion were recorded in 16 recreational athletes (mean (SD) age 53 (9) years) during three 30 minute walking trials at 70%, 80%, and 90% of Vmax (V70, V80, and V90) attained during an incremental treadmill walking test.

Results: Mean (SD) oxygen uptake was 18.2 (2.3), 22.3 (3.1), and 29.3 (5.0) ml/min/kg at V70, V80, and V90 respectively (p<0.001). V70 led to a mean HR of 110 (9) beats/min (66% HRmax), V80 to 124 (9) beats/min (75% HRmax), and V90 to 152 (13) beats/min (93% HRmax) (p<0.001). Mean (SD) lactate concentrations were 1.1 (0.2), 1.8 (0.6), and 3.9 (2.0) mmol/l at V70, V80, and V90 respectively (p<0.001). There were no significant differences between catecholamine concentrations at the different intensities. Rating of perceived exertion was 10 (2) at V70, 12 (2) at V80, and 15 (2) at V90. Twelve subjects reported muscular complaints during exercise at V90 but not at V70 and V80.

Conclusions: Intensity and heart rate prescriptions for walking training can be derived from an incremental treadmill walking test. The cardiovascular and metabolic reactions observed suggest that V80 is the most efficient workload for training in recreational athletes. Further studies are needed to confirm these findings.

  • HR, heart rate
  • IAT, individual anaerobic threshold
  • ITWT, incremental treadmill walking test
  • RPE, rating of perceived exertion
  • o2, oxygen uptake
  • walking test
  • velocity
  • oxygen uptake
  • heart rate
  • lactate

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