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Cardiovascular Effects of Load Carriage in Soldiers; A Pilot Study
Halmstad University, School of Business, Engineering and Science, The Rydberg Laboratory for Applied Sciences (RLAS). Department of Medical Imaging and Physiology, Skåne University Hospital Department of Translational medicine, Lund University, Lund, Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0613-4096
Halmstad University, School of Business, Engineering and Science.
Halmstad University, School of Business, Engineering and Science.
Department of Medical Imaging and Physiology, Skåne University Hospital Department of Translational medicine, Lund University, Lund, Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9991-3712
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2019 (English)In: Book of Abstracts of the 24th Annual Congress of the European College of Sport Science – 3rd - 6th July 2019, Prague – Czech Republic / [ed] Bunc, V. & Tsolakidis, E., European College of Sport Science , 2019, p. 422-423Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Introduction: Previous studies have shown that risk of physical fatigue increases if prolonged average work intensity exceeds 50% of oxygen uptake (VO2). In order to avoid persistent fatigue in a work setting, it is important to conduct suitable work capacity analyses. In physically demanding jobs where wearing protective gear and/or external load is mandatory, monitoring of cardiovascular demands through heart rate (HR) is one way to track the workers’ relative effort.  There are limited studies examining effects of load carrying on cardiovascular capacity where it appears that VO2peak differ when soldiers and firefighters are tested with work-related equipment/clothing compared to light clothing. The aim of this pilot study was to investigate effects of load (combat gear) on HR, VO2 and muscle oxygen saturation (SmO2) compared to no load in soldiers during a graded treadmill protocol.

Methods: Eight volunteer army soldiers (1 woman, 7 men) performed a graded treadmill test until exhaustion. All soldiers performed the test twice, once with light clothes and no load (NL) and once with added load, their personal combat gear (CG), with at least 48 h between sessions. The treadmill protocol stages included supine and standing positions, followed by marching speeds of 5.4 km/h and 8 km/h at 0 incline (all 5 min) immediately followed by a set marching speed of 8 km/h with a starting incline of 2 % increasing the incline 2 % every third minute until voluntary exhaustion. Measurements of HR, VO2 and SmO2 were collected continuously and the last 30 s of each stage were averaged and used for statistical analyses (paired t-tests).

Results: The mean added load for all soldiers with CG was 16.8 ± 1.1 kg. All soldiers completed at least 6 stages (range 6-11 stages) with both NL and CG, where time to exhaustion with NL was longer (19.1 ± 3.2 min) compared to CG (9.1 ± 2.9 min; p <0.01). Submaximal HR and VO2 were both significantly higher with CG compared to NL (at absolute intensities) at all marching speeds all soldiers completed (5.4 km/h 0 % grade - 8 km/h 4% grade; all p<0.05). For SmO2, marching with CG compared to NL resulted in increased muscle oxygen utilization, at submaximal stages 8 km/h 0% -4% grade (all p<0.05). For values at maximal effort the CG had a significantly lower VO2peak (3.7 ± 0.5 L/min) compared to NL (4.1 ± 0.6 L/min, p <0.01), whereas there was no difference in HRpeak or the lowest value of SmO2 between CG (193.1 ± 7.2 bpm; 42.4 ± 30.3%) and NL (195.4 ± 8.9 bpm; 47.0 ± 29.2%).

Conclusions: This pilot study suggests that assessment of aerobic capacity in soldiers should be conducted with combat gear to help determine their actual work capacity during combat and other load carrying tasks. These results suggest that if soldiers’ work performance is determined without added load it overestimates their aerobic capacity (VO2peak) in tasks wearing combat gear, which might lead to added fatigability and deleterious effect on performance.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
European College of Sport Science , 2019. p. 422-423
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Other Medical Sciences not elsewhere specified
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-40393ISBN: 978-3-9818414-2-8 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hh-40393DiVA, id: diva2:1342496
Conference
24th Annual Congress of the European College of Sport Science, ECSS, Prague, Czech Republic, 3-6 July, 2019
Available from: 2019-08-13 Created: 2019-08-13 Last updated: 2019-08-14Bibliographically approved

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Larsson, JonasBremander, AnnOlsson, M. Charlotte

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