The Physiological Assessment and Analysis of the Physical Demand of Riding a Snowmobile

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background: Insufficient physical activity (PA) is associated with numerous chronic diseases and premature mortality, and the challenge of meeting recommended PA guidelines is exacerbated in the winter. Snowmobiling can potentially contribute to PA accumulation, but the objective metabolic and physical demands are unclear. The purpose of this study was to assess the physical demands of riding a snowmobile. Methods: Habitual snowmobile riders responded to a survey describing a typical ride (n = 4015). Using this data, terrain-specific testing courses were created, and recreational snowmobile riders (n = 40) participated in a scaled representative ride (21 [8] min) while aerobic metabolism (VO2) and muscular fatigue were quantified. Results: The mean VO2 while riding, irrespective of terrain, was 18.5 (8.4) mL·kg−1·min−1, with significant differences based on geographic location (13.4 [5.2] vs 25.7 [6.6] mL·kg−1·min−1, P < .001). Muscular fatigue was apparent in maximal handgrip (−7% [8%], P < .001) across both riding terrains, but not lower body power, suggesting a greater influence of an upper body strength component. Conclusions: Snowmobiling is an activity that generally falls within the moderate-intensity activity range and involves both aerobic fitness and muscular strength. There were substantial differences in demand between terrains, suggesting that additional benefits may be conferred from mountain riding as it was more metabolically demanding.

Pereira and Burr are with the University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Durocher is with Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI.

Burr (burrj@uoguelph.ca) is corresponding author.
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