Previous studies have consistently shown that the body mass/relative oxygen cost of submaximal treadmill running is greater in children than in young adults. It has been suggested that the obligatory increased stride frequency in children might be at least partly responsible. This hypothesis was investigated by examining the association between stride frequency and oxygen demand characteristics in 10 aerobically fit prepubescent boys (ages 9-10 yrs) and 10 fit young men (ages 18-25 yrs) while running at fixed submaximal speeds on an electronically driven treadmill. The oxygen demand was higher at all running speeds in the boys’ group. To compensate for a shorter stride length, the boys demonstrated higher stride frequency at all speeds. To determine if the inferior running economy in the boys was partly due to the greater stride frequency, the relative oxygen demand per stride was compared between groups at all speeds. This value was similar in both groups. It is concluded that the apparently greater oxygen demand of running in boys may be due in part to the greater stride frequency required to maintain similar running speeds.
Viswanath Unnithan is a research assistant at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, Worcester, MA. Roger Eston is with the Dept. of Movement Science, Faculty of Medicine, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, L69 3BX, U.K.