PARTICIPANTS: Forty-three polio subjects (25 PPS, 18 non-PPS) and 12 control subjects. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Power output, oxygen uptake, and heart rate were measured in an incremental submaximal cycle ergometry test. Maximal short-term power was measured in 5-second all-out efforts. Knee extensor strength was measured on a chair dynamometer.
RESULTS: The mean submaximal power +/- standard deviation at 80% of heart rate reserve of 83.8 +/- 29.9 watts in the polio subjects was significantly less than the mean submaximal power of 142.1 +/- 30.4 watts in the control group. However, expressed as a percentage of the maximal short-term power, submaximal power did not differ between the groups. Strength and maximal short-term power correlated significantly (p < .005) with submaximal power (r = .64 and .76, respectively). The oxygen uptake was higher than theoretically expected for the given submaximal power output in polio subjects, and appeared to increase with increasing asymmetry in strength and power between legs. No differences were found between PPS and non-PPS subjects.
CONCLUSION: The submaximal work capacity of polio subjects was severely reduced, mainly in association with the reduced muscle capacity. And, because of a reduced movement economy, their energy cost was elevated. Although muscle loads in activities such as walking and climbing stairs differ from cycling, they also may require elevated relative levels of effort, predisposing subjects to premature fatigue in sustained activity