Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
ISSN: 1303 - 2968   
Ios-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Androit-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
from September 2014
©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2008) 07, 32 - 38

Research article
Exertion During Uphill, Level and Downhill Walking With and Without Hiking Poles
Stephane Perrey1, , Nicolas Fabre2
Author Information
1 Faculty of Sport Sciences, Montpellier, France
2 Université de Pau, Département STAPS, Tarbes, France

Stephane Perrey
✉ EA 2991 Motor efficiency and deficiency Laboratory, Faculty of Sport Sciences, 700 avenue du pic saint loup, Montpellier 34090, France
Publish Date
Received: 12-08-2007
Accepted: 31-10-2007
Published (online): 01-03-2008
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This study examined the effects of poles when walking on the rate of perceived exertion (RPE), physiological and kinematics parameters, and upon the mean ratio between locomotor and respiratory rhythms. Twelve healthy male and female volunteers, aged 22 to 49 years old, completed on a motorized treadmill in a counterbalanced randomized order 12 walking trials for 10 min at an individually preferred walking speed, with three grades (horizontal level, uphill or downhill with a slope of 15%), with and without hiking poles and a load carriage of 15% of body mass. During all testing sessions, heart rate (HR), oxygen consumption (VO2), ventilation (VE), tidal volume (VT), breathing frequency (Bf), and stride frequency were recorded continuously during the last 5-min of each trial. At the end of each trial, subjects were asked to give RPE. Energy cost (EC) and VE increased significantly with the grade (-15% < 0% < +15%) and with the carrying load. VT was significantly less important with hiking poles, while Bf was significantly more elevated. VO2 and EC increased (p < 0.05) with the use of the hiking poles only during the downhill trials. No significant effect of poles was observed on HR, RPE, and preferred walking speed. The average ratio between the locomotor and respiratory frequencies was significantly influenced by the three experimental factors tested. There was a significant relationship between average ratio of leg movement per breath and EC of walking among all conditions (r = 0.83, n = 12). These results suggest that the use of the hiking poles had a significant influence on the respiratory and energetic responses only during downhill walking.

Key words: Energy cost, grades, hiking poles, respiration, nordic-walking

           Key Points
  • Energetic cost, respiratory responses, stride rate, respiratory to cycle rate ratio were significantly influenced by the use of hiking poles according to the grade at self-selected walking speed.
  • Hiking poles induced an increase in respiratory frequency, VE and energetic cost during downhill, while little changes were observed during level and uphill terrain.
  • The original results obtained in downhill necessitate supplementary studies in the field in order to confirm these first tendencies on treadmill.
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