Cardio-respiratory adjustments and cost of locomotion in school children during backpack walking (the Italian Backpack Study)

G. Merati, S. Negrini, P. Sarchi, F. Mauro, A. Veicsteinas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The use of a school backpack is one of the possible causes of back pain in children. Oxygen consumption (VO2), pulmonary ventilation, and heart rate (fc) were measured in 35 pre-pubertal subjects [17 girls and 18 boys, mean (SD) age 11.3 (0.6) years]. They took part in a four-step experiment: (1) standing for 5 min, (2) walking at 3 km·h-1 for 7 min, (3) walking at 3 km·h-1 for 7 min carrying a school backpack weighing 8 kg, and (4) walking at 7 km·h-1 for 5 min with no load. The occurrence of back pain in the last 2-3 years and during the last 15 days was assessed for the subjects by means of a questionnaire. Mean (SD) standing VO2 was 215 (45) ml·min-1 during walking at 3 km·h-1, 503 (101) ml·min-1 during walking without a load, and increased to 541 (98) ml·min-1 during walking with a load (Pc only minimally. The energy cost of walking at 3 km·h-1 without the backpack was 10.0 (2.0) ml O2·m-1, and with the backpack was 10.8 (1.9) ml O2·m-1 (P-1·m-1 for the unloaded condition and slightly lower, at 0.123 (0.025) ml·kg body mass-1·m-1 during loaded walking (Pc/VO2 slope was significantly lower in children without back pain, even though the net energy cost of locomotion was similar. Overall, these data suggest that the cardiovascular effort required for locomotion while carrying a backpack is minimal. However, fatigability and back pain are more likely to take place in less physical performing subjects. Thus, the occurrence of back pain in schoolchildren during locomotion while carrying a backpack may improve with an improvement in their level of fitness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-48
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Volume85
Issue number1-2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2001

Keywords

  • Back pain
  • Backpack
  • Cost of locomotion
  • External load
  • Walking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Physiology
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

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