Energy expenditure, cardiorespiratory, and perceptual responses to shallow-water aquatic exercise in young adult women

Elizabeth F Nagle, Mary E Sanders, Alex Shafer, Bethany Barone Gibbs, Jacquelyn A Nagle, Anthony R Deldin, Barry A Franklin, Robert J Robertson
Physician and Sportsmedicine 2013, 41 (3): 67-76

INTRODUCTION: Aquatic exercise (AE) is a popular form of physical activity, yet few studies have assessed the individual's energy expenditure (EE) associated with a continuous bout of AE. Studies using indirect calorimetry to measure EE have reported limitations associated with test methodology and the ability to control individual's exercise intensity or tempo.

PURPOSE: To evaluate EE and cardiorespiratory (CR) responses during a 40-minute shallow-water AE session in young adult women.

METHODS: Twenty-one healthy women (aged 21.7 ± 3.4 years) completed an orientation practice session and a 40-minute shallow-water AE session using a traditional exercise class format and the SWEAT video-based instructional cuing program. The high-intensity interval format included the following segments: 1) warm-up (3 minutes); 2) CR segment ( 22 minutes); 3) muscular endurance segment (ME; 10 minutes); and 4) cool-down (5 minutes). Subject oxygen consumption (VO2; mL/kg/min), heart rate (HR) and OMNI overall ratings of perceived exertion (RPE-O) were assessed each minute. Average kcal/min1, metabolic equivalents (METs; 1 MET = 3.5 mL/kg/min), and total kcals per segment and for the overall session were calculated.

RESULTS: The total subject EE throughout the 40-minute trial (including warm-up and cool-down segments) was 264 kcals, with an overall average of 6.3 kcals/min (5.6 METs).The average kcals/min expended throughout CR segments 2 through 6 was 8.05 (7.1 METs), with the Hoverjog segment producing the greatest average kcals/min at 8.3 (7.3 METs). The CR portion (22 min) contributed 65% of the total EE (171 kcals) of the 40-minute AE trial. For the overall AE trial, the highest and average subject VO2 achieved were 33.3 and 19.7 mL/kg/min, respectively. The average highest subject heart rate achieved was 177 beats per minute (bpm), equivalent to 90% of the participant's age-predicted HRmax.

CONCLUSION: Energy expenditure during a 40-minute AE session met national recommendations for a daily moderate-to-vigorous bout of physical activity offering a viable alternative to land-based exercise. Because AE serves as a partial-weight bearing modality, future studies are needed to clarify the EE of shallow-water AE in apparently healthy and clinical populations.

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