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Energetic Cost and Preferred Speed of Walking in Obese vs. Normal Weight Women
Version of Record online: 6 SEP 2012
2005 North American Association for the Study of Obesity (NAASO)
Volume 13, Issue 5, pages 891–899, May 2005
How to Cite
Browning, R. C. and Kram, R. (2005), Energetic Cost and Preferred Speed of Walking in Obese vs. Normal Weight Women. Obesity Research, 13: 891–899. doi: 10.1038/oby.2005.103
- Issue online: 6 SEP 2012
- Version of Record online: 6 SEP 2012
- Received for review May 17, 2004; Accepted in final form March 04, 2005
- energy cost per distance;
- cost of transport
Objective: We tested the hypotheses that walking is more expensive for obese women, and they prefer slower walking speeds that minimize the gross energy cost per distance despite a greater relative aerobic effort [percent of maximal oxygen uptake (V˙o2max)/kg].
Research Methods and Procedures: Twenty adult women, 10 obese (BMI = 34.1 ± 3.2 kg/m2) and 10 normal weight (BMI = 20.4 ± 2.1 kg/m2) volunteered. To determine the metabolic rate and energy cost per distance vs. speed relationships, we measured V˙o2 and V˙CO2 while subjects walked on a treadmill at six speeds (0.50, 0.75, 1.0, 1.25, 1.5, and 1.75 m/s; 5-minute trials, with a 5-minute rest period between trials). We measured preferred walking speed on a 50-m section of level sidewalk and V˙o2max using a modified Balke treadmill protocol.
Results: Walking was 11% more expensive for the obese subjects, but they preferred to walk at similar speeds as normal weight subjects (1.40 vs. 1.47 m/s, p = 0.07). Both groups preferred walking speeds at which their gross energy cost per distance was almost minimized. Obese subjects had a smaller V˙o2max/kg, so they required a greater relative aerobic effort at the preferred speed (51% vs. 36%, p = 0.001).
Discussion: Obese women preferred a walking speed that minimized energy cost per distance, even though this strategy required a greater relative aerobic effort than walking more slowly. Our results suggest that walking slower for a set distance may be an appropriate exercise recommendation for a weight management prescription in obese adults.