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The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 1999 March;39(1):37-41


lingua: Inglese

Metabolic and cardiovascular responses during work on a high ropes course

Watts Ph. B., Coleman B., Clure C., Daggett M., Gallagher Ph., Sustrich P., Wilkins B.

Exercise Science Laboratory, Northern Michigan University, Marquette, Michigan, USA


Background. High ­ropes ­course facil­ities are ­employed in adven­ture pro­grams to pro­mote self­-es­teem, ­stress man­age­ment, and prob­lem-solv­ing ­skill devel­op­ment. Although the com­bi­na­tion of ­fear, anx­ie­ty, and poten­tial­ly ­high lev­els of phys­i­cal exer­tion dur­ing ­such activ­ity ­could ­yield sit­u­a­tions of car­diac ­risk for cer­tain indi­vid­u­als, no pre­vi­ous ­research has ­described the phys­io­log­i­cal ­nature of ­high ­ropes ­course ­work. The pur­pose of ­this ­study was to ­observe the meta­bol­ic and car­di­o­vas­cu­lar respons­es to a typ­i­cal ­high ­ropes ­course expe­ri­ence.
Methods. Seventeen sub­jects ­gave ­informed con­sent to com­plete a 5-ele­ment ­sequence on an ­indoor ­high ­ropes ­course. The ele­ments includ­ed ­step-­swings (SS), swing­ing ­tires (ST), a 4-­inch bal­ance ­beam (B1), a ver­ti­cal car­go net (CN), and a sec­ond ­beam (B2). These ele­ments ­were posi­tioned in ­series at a ­height of 20 ­feet ­above the ­floor. Expired air was ana­lyzed con­tin­u­ous­ly ­using a port­able ­open cir­cuit meta­bol­ic ana­lyz­er and ­heart ­rate (HR) was record­ed at 5-sec­ond inter­vals via telem­e­try. Pre- and ­postcourse ­blood sam­ples ­were ­obtained via fin­ger-­prick and ana­lyzed for lac­tate (BL). Systolic (SBP) and dia­stol­ic (DBP) ­blood pres­sures ­were tak­en at an orien­ta­tion ses­sion ­prior to ­each ­subiect’s ­test ­date and at pre-, mid-, and ­post course ­points dur­ing ­each ­test ses­sion.
Results. The ­mean ­ropes ­course ­work ­time was 11.2±2.9 min. Mean aver­aged/­peak oxy­gen ­uptake (V.O2), ven­ti­la­tion (VE), HR, and ener­gy expen­di­ture (EE) ­were 13.9±2.3/21.6±3.7 ml·kg-1·min-1, 36.4±8.1/49.6±10.3 l·min-1, 142±16/167±15 b·min-1, and 5.1±0.9/7.7±1.0 ­kcal·min-1 respec­tive­ly. In descend­ing ­order, ­mean EE was 6.2±1.1, 6.2±0.8, 5.4±1.0, 4.5±0.5, and 4.2±0.5 ­kcal±min-1 for the B2, ST, CN, B1, and SS ele­ments respec­tive­ly. Blood lac­tate ­increased (p<0.05) ­from a pre ­course val­ue of 1.9±0.6 ­mmol·l-1 to 5.0±1.1 ­mmol·l-1 ­post ­course. SBP val­ues at pre- (136.7±16.0), mid- (169.8±19.7), and ­post­course (154.1±19.2) ­were high­er (p<0.05) ­than the orien­ta­tion SBP of 126.2±14.7 mmHg. Mid- and ­post course SBP ­means ­were sig­nif­i­cant­ly high­er ­than the pre­course ­mean. A sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence was ­found for DBP ­between the midcourse (86.3±8.9) vs the orien­ta­tion ­mean (79.1±6.8) ­only.
Conclusions. Based ­upon the ­results of ­this ­study, aver­age ­high ­ropes ­course ­work can be clas­si­fied as aero­bi­cal­ly mod­er­ate to ­heavy, at ­just ­over 4 METs ­with ­peak peri­ods ­over 7 METs. Transient ele­va­tion in DBP may ­occur dur­ing ele­ments ­with a ­high lev­el of ­upper ­body ­work. High ­ropes ­course ­work ­does not ­present an unusu­al­ly ­high phys­io­log­i­cal ­stress for ­healthy, phys­i­cal­ly fit indi­vid­u­als.

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