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Aerobic Capacity as Related to Leg Strength in Youths with Mental Retardation

Kenneth H. Pitetti and Bo Fernhall

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the relationship between aerobic capacity (VO2peak) and leg strength of male (n = 17) and female (n = 12) youths (age = 14.2 ± 2.1 years) with mild to moderate mental retardation. Aerobic capacity was determined by a treadmill test (GXT) and isokinetic knee flexion and extension strength (peak torque, peak force, average force) was determined by isokinetic dynamometry. Results indicate that significant positive relationships (p < .05) exist between VO2peak (ml · min−1 · kg−1) and isokinetic leg strength expressed relative to body weight. The results indicate that leg strength is a contributor to aerobic fitness in youths with mental retardation. Additionally, when considering the low levels of both strength and VO2peak, leg strength may be a limiting factor of VO2peak in these youths, or the relationship may be explained by the concept of metabolic nonspecialization.

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Leg Strength Is Related to Endurance Run Performance in Children and Adolescents with Mental Retardation

Bo Fernhall and Kenneth H. Pitetti

This study evaluated the relationship between leg strength and endurance run performance, independent of aerobic capacity (V̇O2peak), body size, and gender, in children and adolescents with mild or moderate mental retardation. Twenty-six individuals (15 boys and 11 girls) volunteered and underwent tests of V̇O2peak, isokinetic leg strength, and endurance run performance (600-yard ran/walk and 20-m shuttle run). Results showed that leg strength was significantly related to both types of run performance; however, when controlling for V̇O2peak, body size, and gender, leg strength was a more significant contributor to the 600-yard run/walk than to 20-m shuttle run performance. Gender did not influence these relationships. These data suggest that leg strength has a significant influence on endurance run performance in children and adolescents with mild or moderate mental retardation.

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Validation of Cardiovascular Fitness Field Tests for Adults with Mental Retardation

Bo Fernhall and Garth T. Tymeson

This study evaluated the concurrent validity of the 300-yard and the 1.5-mile run with a group of mildly mentally retarded (MR) adults. The subjects, 15 healthy MR adults (M age = 29.5 + 5.6 yrs, M IQ = 60), underwent a maximal treadmill test utilizing a walking protocol, with heart rate and oxygen consumption data collected every minute. They also completed a 300-yard and a 1.5-mile run. The order of testing was counterbalanced. The results indicated that these subjects exhibited very poor cardiovascular fitness levels, with a mean V̇O2max of 28.1 ml•kg-1•min-1 and mean run times of 98.9 sec and 21.1 min for the 300-yard and the 1.5-mile runs, respectively. The correlation between V̇O2max and the 1.5-mile run was –.88, and the correlation for the 300-yard run and V̇O2max was –.71. However, partial correlations indicated that when the effect of height and weight were held constant, only the correlation between V̇O2max and the 1.5-mile run remained significant whereas that between V̇O2max and the 300-yard run dropped. Consequently, the 1.5-mile run appears to be a valid indicator of cardiovascular fitness for these adults with MR, but the 300 yard run is not.

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Reliability of Wingate Testing in Adolescents with Down Syndrome

Myriam Guerra, Maria Giné-Garriga, and Bo Fernhall

The Wingate anaerobic test (WAnT) has not been used to assess individuals with Down syndrome (DS) and it is unknown if it is reliable in this population. We investigated the reliability of the WAnT in 19 adolescents with DS (age = 14.8 yrs; weight = 52.7 kg; height = 146.3 cm). Participants completed, on separate days, two standards WAnT using a resistance of 0.7 Nm × body weight (kg) in individuals ≥ 14 years old, and 0.5 Nm × body weight (kg) in participants < 14 years of age. Data were analyzed using intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC), dependent t tests and Bland-Altman plots. There was a significant difference between days for peak power (210.37 W vs. 236.26 W; ICC = 0.93), but not for mean power (158.72 vs. 168.71 W; ICC = 0.86), time to peak power (6.67 vs. 6.28 s; ICC = 0.69), or the fatigue index (9.33 vs. 5.43 W/sec; ICC = 0.09). Adolescents with DS exhibit low WAnT performance compared with previously published data on adolescents without DS and the reliability of WAnT is questionable in this population.

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Comparing Two Regression Formulas That Predict V̇O2peak Using the 20-M Shuttle Run for Children and Adolescents

Kenneth H. Pitetti, Bo Fernhall, and Steve Figoni

Two regression equations were developed to predict cardiovascular fitness (CVF) based on the 20-m shuttle run test (20-MST) for nondisabled youth and for youth with mild mental retardation (MR). The purpose of this study was to compare the validity of both regression formulas to predict CVF in nondisabled, healthy youths (ages 8 to 15 yrs; 38 females and 13 males). Participants performed two modified Bruce protocol treadmill (TM) tests and two 20-MSTs on separate days. CVF (V̇O2peak, ml • kg−1 • min−1) was measured during the TM tests and computed for the 20-MST using both regression equations. Results indicate that test-retest correlations for the 20-MST (# of laps; r = 0.89) and TM test (V̇O2peak, ml • kg−1 • min−1; r = 0.86) were high. Predicted V̇O2peak values were moderately significant (nondisabled youth: r = 0.55, p < .01; youth with MR: r = 0.66, p < .01) when compared with TM V̇O2peak. Correlation between the two regression equations was significant (r = 0.78, p < .01).

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Feasibility of a Treadmill Test for Adolescents with Multiple Disabilities

Kenneth H. Pitetti, Bart Jongmans, and Bo Fernhall

The purpose of this study was to examine the validity and reliability of a treadmill (TM) test for adolescents with multiple disabilities, as defined by PL 105-17. Participants were 16 males and 2 females, ages 11 to 21 (M 14.9 ± 3.2), identified by teachers as potentially able to perform a TM test. Data were collected two times, separated by 2 to 3 weeks. Of the 18 adolescents, 5 could not perform the protocol, and 4 could not complete the test. Intraclass (test–retest) reliability coefficients for HRpeak, V̇Epeak, RERpeak, and V̇O2peak were .90, .90, .88, and .77, respectively, for the remaining 9 participants. Although none of these participants were able to meet the criteria commonly associated for a valid TM maximaltest (V̇O2max), they did meet the criteria for a valid TM maximum test (V̇O2peak) (Wasserman, Hansen, Sue, Whipp, & Casaburi, 1994). Further study of the feasibility of treadmill testing for this population is recommended.

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Cross Validation of the 20-Meter Shuttle Run Test for Adolescents with Down Syndrome

Myriam Guerra, Kenneth H. Pitetti, and Bo Fernhall

The purpose of this study was to determine if the regression formula developed for the 20-m shuttle run test (20 MST) for children and adolescents with mild mental retardation (MR), used to predict cardiovascular fitness (V̇O2peak), is valid for adolescents with Down syndrome (DS). Twenty-six adolescents (mean age = 15.3 ± 2.7 yr) with DS (15 males, 11 females) completed a maximal treadmill protocol (measured V̇O2peak) and a 20 MST (predicted V̇O2peak). There was a significant difference (p < .01) between the means of the measured (25.5 ± 5.2 ml·kg-1-·min-1) and the predicted (33.5 ± 3.9 ml·kg-1·min-1) V̇O2peak, respectively. In addition, there was a low relationship between measured and predicted values (r = .54). The results of this study indicate that the regression formula developed for children and adolescents with MR to predict V̇O2peak was not valid in this sample of adolescents with DS.

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Relationship between the Lactate Threshold and Cross-Country Run Performance in High School Male and Female Runners

Bo Fernhall, Wendy Kohrt, Lee N. Burkett, and Steven Walters

This study evaluated the relationship between run performance, lactate threshold (LT), VO2max, and running economy in adolescent boys (n = 11) and girls (n = 10). Subjects completed laboratory tests to establish VO2max, LT, and running economy. The race performance was the finish time from a cross-country meet. The boys exhibited higher VO2max (67.7 vs. 54.6 ml · kg−1 · min−1) and VO2 at LT (61.7 vs. 48.4 ml · kg−1 · min−1) compared with the girls (p < .05), but there was no difference in running economy, peak lactate, or the %VO2max at LT (p > .05). VO2max (r = −.70) and VO2 at LT (r = −.74) were significantly correlated to performance for the boys, but running economy was not (r = .10). For the girls, VO2max (r = −.90), VO2 at LT (r = −.77), and running economy (r = −.86) were all significantly related to performance. LT was important for cross-country run performance. However, VO2max was an equally strong or better predictor than either LT or running economy.

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Validity and Reliability of the 1/2-Mile Run-Walk as an Indicator of Aerobic Fitness in Children with Mental Retardation

Bo Fernhall, Ken Pitetti, Nancy Stubbs, and Louis Stadler Jr.

The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between VO2max and the 1/2-mile run-walk and the reliability of each in children with mental retardation (MR). Twenty-three children (13 boys, 10 girls) with mild or moderate MR participated in the study. Two maximal treadmill protocols with metabolic measurements and two 1/2-mile run-walk trials were randomly conducted on separate days. There was no difference between Trial 1 and Trial 2 for VO2max (28.2 vs. 29.6 ml · kg−1 · min−1), maximal heart rate (175 vs. 177 bpm), or run-walk time (7.2 vs. 7.1 min). The test-retest correlations were r = .90 for VO2max, r = .81 for maximal heart rate, and r = .96 for the 1/2-mile run-walk (p < .05). The correlation between VO2max and the 1/2-mile run-walk was r = −.60 (p < .05). Adding body mass index to the model improved R to .67 (SEE = 7.3). The 1/2-mile run-walk was a reliable test, but had questionable validity as an indicator of aerobic capacity in children with mild and moderate MR.

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A Step Test for Evaluating the Aerobic Fitness of Children and Adolescents with Mental Retardation

Kenneth H. Pitetti, Bo Fernhall, Nancy Stubbs, and Louis V. Stadler Jr.

The purpose of this study was to determine if a step test could be feasible, reliable, and valid for youths with educable (EMR) or trainable (TMR) mental retardation. Thirteen males and 11 females (age M = 14.7 ± 2.7 yr) with EMR or TMR participated in this study. Three step tests were employed using one platform height and stepping frequencies of 13, 15, and 17 ascents/min for 3 min. Recovery HR was used to estimate VO2peak. Though significant, correlations between the recovery HR and VO2peak for the 15 (r = −0.48) and 17 (r = −0.46) ascents/min were not high enough to be considered valid indicators of VO2peak. The large standard errors of the estimate and total errors suggested systematic errors of prediction. Furthermore, the measured VO2peak was significantly different from the estimated values at all step rates (p < .05). The step-test was relatively feasible, but was not a valid test of VO2peak in this population.