Physiological Responses, Rating of Perceived Exertion, and Stride Characteristics During Walking on Dry Land and Walking in Water, Both With and Without a Water Current

in Journal of Sport Rehabilitation
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Walking in water has been included in rehabilitation programs. However, there is a dearth of information regarding the influence of a water current on physiological responses, rating of perceived exertion (RPE), and stride characteristics of subjects while they walk in water.


To compare physiological responses, RPE, and stride characteristics of subjects walking in water (with and without a current) with those of subjects walking on dry land.


Repeated measures.


University laboratory.


7 male adults (mean age = 21.6 y).


Subjects walked on a treadmill on dry land and on an underwater treadmill immersed to the level of the xiphoid process. The walking speeds in water were set to be half of that on dry land.

Main Outcome Measures:

Oxygen consumption (VO2), respiratory-exchange ratio (RER), heart rate (HR), minute ventilation (VE), RPE (for breathing and legs, RPE-Br and RPE-Legs, respectively), systolic (SBP) and diastolic (DBP) blood pressures, and stride frequency (SF) were measured. In addition, stride length (SL) was calculated.


There was no significant difference in the VO2, RER, HR, VE, RPE-Br, and RPE-Legs while walking in water with a current compared with walking on dry land (P > .05). Furthermore, VO2, RER, HR, VE, RPE-Br, RPE-Legs, SF, and SBP while walking in water were significantly higher with a water current than without (P < .05).


These observations suggest that half the speed should be required to work at the similar metabolic costs and RPE while walking in water with a current, compared with walking on dry land. Furthermore, it was suggested that the physiological responses and RPE would be higher while walking in water with a current than without.

Masumoto is with the Faculty of Integrated Human Studies and Social Sciences, Fukuoka Prefectural University, Fukuoka, Japan. Hamada and Kodama are with the Graduate School of Human-Environment Studies, Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan. Tomonaga is with the Tomonaga Clinic of Internal Medicine, Nagasaki, Japan. Hotta is with the Institute of Health Science, Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan.