McKenzie Snustead1, John P. Porcari1, Kathryn Johnson1, Scott Doberstein1, Kari Emineth1, Carl Foster1. A Comparison of the Submaximal and Maximal Cardiorespiratory Responses to Aquatic vs. Land Cycling. 1Department of Exercise and Sport Science, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, La Crosse, WI, USA.
Introduction: Aquatic cycling has gained in popularity in recent years. There are inconsistencies in the literature regarding the submaximal and maximal HR and VO2 responses to water-based vs. land-based cycling. Differences in these values could have an impact on exercise prescription in the two environments. Purpose: To compare submaximal and maximal HR and VO2 between land and water exercise, as well as their impact on calculated relative exercise intensity. Methods: Sixteen healthy, active college-aged students completed two maximal cycling tests, one in the water and one on land. HR, VO2, and ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) were assessed during both tests. Results: Heart rate and VO2 were blunted in a linear fashion all the way up to and including maximal exertion during aquatic cycling compared to land-based cycling. Maximal HR was 14 bpm lower in water compared to on land and VO2 was 12% lower in water compared to on land. There was no difference in relative exercise intensity (%HRR and %VO2R) at any RPE level. Conclusion: Even though absolute HR and VO2 were lower at all levels of exercise, at a given RPE subjects were working at the same relative intensity on land and in the water and should reap similar benefits.