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Fitness and Rehabilitation Programs for Special Populations

Kenneth H. Pitetti

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Lower Body Strength of Children and Adolescents with and Without Mild Mental Retardation: A Comparison

Kenneth H. Pitetti and Daniel A. Yarmer

The purpose of this study was to compare children and adolescents (ages 8-18 yr) with and without mental retardation (MR) on isometric strength of knee flexion, knee extension, and combined leg and back strength. Sample size of participants with mild MR, but without Down syndrome, was 158 males and 111 females. Sample size of peers without MR was 223 males and 226 females. Analysis was made by gender and age: children (8-10 yr), early adolescents (11-14 yr), and late adolescents (15-18 yr). For all age groups, males and females without MR were significantly stronger than their same-gender peers with MR for all isometric strength measurements. For individuals with MR, the trend toward leveling off or decreasing in leg and back strength is a serious health and social concern.

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A Comparison of 20-M Shuttle-Run Performance of us Midwestern Youth to Their National and International Counterparts

Michael W. Beets and Kenneth H. Pitetti

This study was undertaken to initiate a standardized methodology model for reporting cardiovascular fitness (CVF) for youths in the US and to compare the CVF of youths from a Midwestern metropolitan area to their international and US peers. Participants were 795 youths 8–18 yrs old. The 20-m shuttle-run test (20MST) was used to determine CVF and body composition was determined by body mass index (BMI). Comparative analysis was made by sex and age. Participants in this study showed similar CVF levels with their US peers, but when compared with their international counterparts, they demonstrated considerably lower CVF and higher BMI.

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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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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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Comparison of Measured and ACSM-Predicted V ˙ O 2 in Older Women

Joanne Kraenzle Schneider and Kenneth H. Pitetti

The purpose of this study was to compare measured V ˙ O 2 , at specific stages with the American College of Sports Medicine-predicted V ˙ O 2 , at the same stage during treadmill walking in older women. Twenty-five women (age range = 56.6 to 78.1 years; mean ± SD = 66.6 ± 5.8 years) walked on a treadmill at a speed of 2.0 mph and 0% grade for the first stage and at increased grades for each subsequent stage. The results showed considerable lack of agreement between the measured and predicted V ˙ O 2 , values. Predicted V ˙ O 2 , was lower than measured V ˙ O 2 , at 0% grade and higher than measured V ˙ O 2 , al 10.2% grade (p < .05 for both). However, predicted V ˙ O 2 , was not significantly different from measured V ˙ O 2 , at grades of 3.4% and 6.7%. These results are generalizable only to older women who can walk 2.0 mph on a treadmill and do not use handrail support. Future research is needed to develop more accurate equations for predicting V ˙ O 2 , for older women.

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Heart Rate Responses to Two Field Exercise Tests by Adolescents and Young Adults with Down Syndrome

Ana Marie Varela and Kenneth H. Pitetti

The purpose of this study was twofold: (a) to determine the reflexive HR responses of 10 young adults (mean age = 18.6 ± 3 years) with Down syndrome (DS) to short, intense field tests, and (b) to compare the HR responses of the subjects in this study to previous studies that reported peak HR responses of young adults with DS during maximal treadmill exercise tests. Each subject performed a 300-yd (274-m) run and the Leger and Lambert shuttle run twice on separate days. Heart rates were recorded by telemetry every 50 yd (45.7 m) during the 300-yd run and every minute for the shuttle run. The mean HRs seen throughout both field tests were equal to or higher than peak HRs previously reported. The peak HRs observed were 10 to 30 bpm higher than those peak HRs previously reported for persons with DS of similar age during a maximal treadmill exercise test. The results of this study suggest that low peak HRs may not be specific or unique to the condition of DS.

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Criterion-Referenced Reliability and Equivalency Between the PACER and 1-Mile Run/Walk for High School Students

Michael W. Beets and Kenneth H. Pitetti


To examine the Healthy Fitness Zone (pass/fail) criterion-referenced reliability (CRR) and equivalency (CRE) of the 1-mile run/walk (MRW) and Progressive Aerobic Cardiovascular Endurance Run (PACER) in adolescents (13 to 18 years).


Seventy-six girls and 165 boys were randomly assigned to complete 2 trials of each test.


CRR for the boys on the MRW (Pa = 77%, κq = 0.53) was lower than on the PACER (Pa = 81%, κq = 0.63); girls were classified more similarly on the MRW (Pa = 83%, κq = 0.67) than on the PACER (Pa = 79%, κq = 0.58). The CRE between the MRW and PACER indicated boys (Pa = 77%, κq = 0.55) were classified more consistently on both tests than girls (Pa = 73%, κq = 0.46).


No test provided greater consistency. Practitioners may consider other features, such as ease of administration, environmental conditions, and comparative use in the literature.

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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.