Kathryn Johnson1, John P. Porcari1, McKenzie Snustead1, Scott Doberstein1, Kari Emineth1, Carl Foster1Cardiorespiratory Responses during an Aqua Cycling Class1Department of Exercise and Sport Science, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, La Crosse, WI, USA.


Introduction: A relatively new group fitness class which is growing in popularity is aqua cycling. Aqua cycling is essentially a “spinning” class performed while partially immersed in water. Cycling underwater provides a low impact environment and the resistance provided by the water purportedly allows for high levels of energy expenditure (EE) with little musculoskeletal strain on the body. Purpose: To determine the relative exercise intensity and EE during an aqua cycling class and determine if aqua cycling meets ACSM guidelines for exercise prescription. Methods: Eight males (age 22.3 + 1.75 years) and 8 females (age 21.1 + 1.46 years) completed an aqua cycling workout by following along to a pre-recorded DVD. The total class was 50 minutes in length, including a 5-minute warm-up and a 5-minute cool-down. Heart rate and VO2 were monitored every minute throughout the workout and perceived exertion (RPE) was recorded at the end of each segment of the workout using the 6-20 Borg scale. Results: Average HR and %HRR were 115 + 13.7 bpm and 49 + 9.8 %HRR, and average VO2 and %VO2R were 20.3 + 3.15 ml/kg/min and 47 + 5.3 %VO2R, respectively. The VO2 corresponded to an average of 5.8 + .90 METs. The average energy expenditure for the class was 363 + 65.5 kcals, which corresponded to 7.3 + 1.31 kcal/min. Average RPE for the 40-minute workout portion of the class, excluding the warm-up and cool-down, was 12.2 + .95. Conclusion: Based upon the HR, VO2, and RPE responses, aqua cycling provides a moderate intensity workout that meets ACSM guidelines for improving cardiovascular endurance and positively influencing body weight. Consequently, aqua cycling also provides a low impact exercise alternative for those individuals for whom weight-bearing exercise may be problematic.