Metabolic accommodation to running on a body weight-supported treadmill

David K P McNeill, Hendrik D de Heer, Cody P Williams, J Richard Coast
European Journal of Applied Physiology 2015, 115 (5): 905-10

PURPOSE: Body weight-supported treadmill training using positive air pressure has become increasingly popular, but little is known about the metabolic adaptations to these treadmills. This study aimed to evaluate the existence and length of a metabolic accommodation period to running on a lower body positive pressure (LBPP) treadmill.

METHODS: A total of eight recreational runners (5 males and 3 females) ran 15 min trials (5 min at 50, 70, and 90 % body weight) on the AlterG Anti-gravity(®) P200 treadmill. No verbal instruction was given on how to run on the device. Their trial pace corresponded to 70-80 % of their velocity measured at [Formula: see text]O2max on a standard treadmill. Trials were continued until no significant metabolic change was observed. Two-way repeated measures analysis of variance was used to analyze changes in [Formula: see text]O2 across trials and levels of unloading.

RESULTS: Participants completed 7 trials. Comparing trial 1 to the average of trials 5, 6, and 7, [Formula: see text]O2 decreased from 29.6 ± 3.8 to 23.6 ± 4.4 ml/kg/min at 50 % body weight (~20 % reduction), from 33.7 ± 4.5 to 29.2 ± 5.1 ml/kg/min at 70 % body weight (~13 % reduction), and from 41.0 ± 7.7 to 36.6 ± 5.6 ml/kg/min at 90 % body weight (~11 % reduction). No significant reduction occurred after trial 4 at any level of support.

CONCLUSIONS: An accommodation effect of running on a treadmill with LBPP was observed and reached after 60 min of running (4 trials of 15 min). The accommodation effect was the largest at the greatest level of body weight support. These data suggest the importance of an accommodation period for reliable measures of metabolic cost to be made.

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