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Josie di Natale, Mary Lee, Graham Ward and Roy J. Shephard

The aerobic power and body composition of 18 sightless adolescents (10 males and 8 females) has been tested by standard laboratory techniques. While attending a residential school and participating in specific sessions of vigorous endurance activity at least three times per week, their fitness was comparable to that of normally sighted adolescents (estimated body fat 14.9, 25.3%, directly measured cycle ergometer maximum oxygen intake 51.7, 39.7 ml $$ kg-1 min-1). However, after a 10-week summer vacation spent with their parents, the physical condition of these children had deteriorated to levels previously reported for blind children (estimated body fat 14.7, 27.1%, directly measured maximum oxygen intake 44.9, 33.7 ml $$ kg-1 min-1). It is concluded that sightless students can attain normal levels of fitness for their age if given an adequate and suitably adapted physical activity program. However, if condition is to be maintained, programs should stress patterns of activity suited to the home environment, which typically has no special equipment or trained guides.

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Lynda B. Ransdell, Mary K. Dinger, Jennifer Huberty, Kim Miller and Myung-Ah Lee

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Kelley K. Pettee Gabriel, Rebecca L. Rankin, Chong Lee, Mary E. Charlton, Pamela D. Swan and Barbara E. Ainsworth

Background:

The 400 m walk test has been used in older adults; however, the applicability in middle-aged populations is unknown.

Methods:

Data were obtained from the Evaluation of Physical Activity Measures in Middle-Aged Women (PAW) Study and included 66 women (52.6 ± 5.4 years). Participants were instructed to walk at a brisk, maintainable pace; time taken to complete the 400 m was recorded in seconds. Intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC) were used to assess test-retest reliability. Spearman rank order correlation coefficients were used to examine the concurrent validity of the walk test with cardiorespiratory fitness and associations with physical activity, body composition, flexibility, static balance, and muscular fitness, adjusted for age and body mass index.

Results:

Participants completed the walk at visits 4 and 5 in 248.0 and 245.0 seconds, respectively. The walk test had excellent reproducibility [ICC = 0.95 (95% CI: 0.92, 0.97)] and was significantly associated with estimated (ρ = −0.43; P < 0.0001) and measured (ρ = −0.56; P < 0.001) VO2max. The walk test was also significantly related to physical activity, body composition, flexibility, and balance.

Conclusions:

These findings support the utility of the 400 m walk test to estimate cardiorespiratory fitness and reflect free-living physical activity in healthy, middle-aged women.

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Laura Lee Swisher, John Nyland, David Klossner and Jason Beckstead

Edited by Mary Barnum