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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Michael W. Beets, Kenneth H. Pitetti and Bo Fernhall

The purpose of this study was to twofold: to determine reliability of peak performance as measured by peak heart rate (HRpeak) during the Progressive Cardiovascular Endurance Run (PACER) and a treadmill stress test (TM); and to compare the PACER and the TM. The sample consisted of 42 participants 8 to 21 years old with mild mental retardation. Participants completed two PACERs followed by two TMs separated by a minimum of 48 hr. Data collected were HR for the PACER and TM; PACER laps completed; and TM endurance time (min). Intraclass correlations were computed separately for males and females in order to assess the reliability of PACER laps, HRpeak, and TM time. Results indicated high reliability for both males and females on PACER laps and TM HRpeak, and for males on PACER HR and TM time; moderate reliability was observed for females on PACER HRpeak and TM time. No significant differences were detected within or among trials. These findings indicate that youth with mild mental retardation exhibit consistent peak performance on the PACER and TM tests; therefore, PACER can be used for surveillance of aerobic fitness in this population.

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Tracy Baynard, Viswanath B. Unnithan, Kenneth H. Pitetti and Bo Fernhall

This study evaluated detection of ventilatory threshold (VT) in adolescents with mental retardation (MR) (17 with MR, 13 with MR and Down Syndrome (DS), mean age 17.5 years). Subjects performed an individualized treadmill VO2peak test. Two evaluators reviewed the same VT plots 6 weeks apart, using 5 different methods. VE vs. time elicited the most detectable cases (83%), but significantly fewer youth with DS exhibited a detectable VT using any combination of methods (62% vs. 100%). Only VE vs. time yielded acceptable detection rate, although this may have been influenced by the protocol used. Intra-evaluator correlation coefficients ranged from 0.91-0.97, and interevaluator reliability coefficients ranged from 0.81-0.93. These findings suggest determination of VT is difficult in this population when using an individualized treadmill protocol, especially in adolescents with DS.

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Stamatis Agiovlasitis, Robert W. Motl, John T. Foley and Bo Fernhall

This study examined the relationship between energy expenditure and wrist accelerometer output during walking in persons with and without Down syndrome (DS). Energy expenditure in metabolic equivalent units (METs) and activity-count rate were respectively measured with portable spirometry and a uniaxial wrist accelerometer in 17 persons with DS (age: 24.7 ± 6.9 years; 9 women) and 21 persons without DS (age: 26.3 ± 5.2 years; 12 women) during six over-ground walking trials. Combined groups regression showed that the relationship between METs and activity-count rate differed between groups (p < .001). Separate models for each group included activity-count rate and squared activity-count rate as significant predictors of METs (p ≤ .005). Prediction of METs appeared accurate based on Bland-Altman plots and the lack of between-group difference in mean absolute prediction error (DS: 17.07%; Non-DS: 18.74%). Although persons with DS show altered METs to activity-count rate relationship during walking, prediction of their energy expenditure from wrist accelerometry appears feasible.