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Physiological Demands of Off-Road Vehicle Riding

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The purpose of this study was to characterize the physiological demands of recreational off-road vehicle riding under typical riding conditions using habitual recreational off-road vehicle riders (n = 128). Comparisons of the physical demands of off-road vehicle riding were made between vehicle types (all-terrain vehicle (ATV) and off-road motorcycle (ORM)) to the demands of common recreational activities. Habitual riders (ATV = 56, ORM = 72) performed strength assessments before and after a representative trail ride (48 +/- 24.2 min), and ambulatory oxygen consumption was measured during one lap (24.2 +/- 11.8 min) of the ride. The mean VO2 requirement (mL x kg(-1) x min(-1)) while riding an off-road vehicle was 12.1 +/- 4.9 for ATV and 21.3 +/- 7.1 for ORM (P = 0.002), which is comparable to the VO2 required of many common recreational activities. Temporal analysis of activity intensity revealed approximately 14% of an ATV ride and 38% of an ORM ride are within the intensity range (940% VO2 reserve) required to achieve changes in aerobic fitness. Riding on a representative course also led to muscular fatigue, particularly in the upper body. On the basis of the measured metabolic demands, evidence of muscular strength requirements, and the associated caloric expenditures with off-road vehicle riding, this alternative form of activity conforms to the recommended physical activity guidelines and can be effective for achieving beneficial changes in health and fitness.
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Physiological Demands of Off-Road
Vehicle Riding
JAMIE F. BURR
1
, VERONICA K. JAMNIK
1
, JIM A. SHAW
2
, and NORMAN GLEDHILL
1
1
Physical Activity and Chronic Disease Unit, Faculty of Health, York University, Toronto, Ontario, CANADA;
and
2
School of Kinesiology and Health Science, Faculty of Health, York University, Toronto, Ontario, CANADA
ABSTRACT
BURR, J. F., V. K. JAMNIK, J. A. SHAW, and N. GLEDHILL. Physiological Demands of Off-Road Vehicle Riding. Med. Sci. Sports
Exerc., Vol. 42, No. 7, pp. 1345–1354, 2010. Introduction: The purpose of this study was to characterize the physiological demands of
recreational off-road vehicle riding under typical riding conditions using habitual recreational off-road vehicle riders (n= 128).
Methods: Comparisons of the physical demands of off-road vehicle riding were made between vehicle types (all-terrain vehicle (ATV)
and off-road motorcycle (ORM)) to the demands of common recreational activities. Habitual riders (ATV = 56, ORM = 72) performed
strength assessments before and after a representative trail ride (48 T24.2 min), and ambulatory oxygen consumption was measured
during one lap (24.2 T11.8 min) of the ride. Results: The mean V
˙O
2
requirement (mLIkg
j1
Imin
j1
) while riding an off-road vehicle
was 12.1 T4.9 for ATV and 21.3 T7.1 for ORM (P= 0.002), which is comparable to the V
˙O
2
required of many common recreational
activities. Temporal analysis of activity intensity revealed approximately 14% of an ATV ride and 38% of an ORM ride are within
the intensity range (940% V
˙O
2
reserve) required to achieve changes in aerobic fitness. Riding on a representative course also
led to muscular fatigue, particularly in the upper body. Conclusions: On the basis of the measured metabolic demands, evidence
of muscular strength requirements, and the associated caloric expenditures with off-road vehicle riding, this alternative form of
activity conforms to the recommended physical activity guidelines and can be effective for achieving beneficial changes in health
and fitness. Key Words: MOTORCYCLE, ATV, HEALTH-RELATED FITNESS, ALTERNATIVE PHYSICAL ACTIVITY,
METABOLIC, AEROBIC
Examination of the physiological and psychological
characteristics of recreational off-road vehicle riders
has demonstrated that persons who are habitual off-
road riders have some health, fitness, and quality-of-life
advantages over the normative population (Burr et al., un-
published observations). Many of these changes, which are
vehicle-type–dependent (all-terrain vehicle (ATV) vs off-
road motorcycle (ORM)), manifest in riders with increas-
ing age and result from years of involvement (Burr et al.,
unpublished observations). It is unclear, however, if the
observed attributes of Canadians who habitually ride rec-
reational off-road vehicles are different from the normative
Canadian profile as a result of participation in the off-road
riding itself, or if some underlying selection factor is re-
sponsible for the group differences. To understand more
fully the health-related fitness consequences of participation
in recreational off-road vehicle riding, an evaluation of the
immediate physical demands of riding is required.
The majority of scientific literature pertaining to the
physical demands of off-road vehicle riding is specific to
‘motocross’’ racing, which is a competitive form of ORM
riding in which riders navigate a manmade track consisting
of obstacles and jumps. The HR response (Q90% HR
max
)
and oxygen consumption (70%–95% V
˙O
2max
) associated
with motocross racing indicate that this sport is of ex-
tremely vigorous intensity and is associated with a consid-
erable metabolic demand and physiological stress (3,19,20).
However, the physical demands noted in competitive sprint-
based motocross, which typically lasts G30 min, likely do
not reflect the demands of the average recreational trail
ride, which is of considerably longer duration. It is also
unlikely that the average Canadian recreational off-road ve-
hicle rider chooses to cover riding terrain of the same dif-
ficulty or at the same speed as competitive motocross racers
do. To date, recreational ORM and ATV riding have not
been examined.
The purpose of this study was to characterize the phys-
iological demands of recreational off-road vehicle riding
under typical riding conditions using habitual recreational
off-road vehicle riders. A secondary purpose was to make
comparisons of the physical demands of off-road vehicle
riding between vehicle types to common recreational ac-
tivities. We hypothesized that the physical demands of rid-
ing an off-road vehicle would be comparable to other, more
Address for correspondence: Norman Gledhill, Ph.D., York University,
4700 Keele St, Room 356 Bethune College, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
M3J 1P3; E-mail: ngledhil@yorku.ca.
Submitted for publication September 2009.
Accepted for publication November 2009.
0195-9131/10/4207-1345/0
MEDICINE & SCIENCE IN SPORTS & EXERCISE
Ò
Copyright Ó2010 by the American College of Sports Medicine
DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181cd5cd3
1345
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Copyright © 2010 by the American College of Sports Medicine. Unauthorized reproduction of this article is prohibited.
commonly accepted, recreational activities and that the
physical demands of riding an ORM would be greater than
those involved in riding an ATV. We further hypothesized
that the demands of riding an off-road vehicle would be
of sufficient intensity to be associated with health-related
fitness adaptations.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Assessments
Composition of a typical ride. A nationwide sur-
vey was distributed to off-road vehicle riders (N= 303;
ATV = 141, ORM = 162), soliciting information regarding
frequency and duration of occurrence of terrain features
normally encountered on a ride. This informed the com-
position of a representative riding trail to be used during
the assessment of physical demands. To clarify survey re-
sults and ensure accuracy when designing a representative
trail riding course, focus groups were held (ATV = 17,
ORM = 20) to elaborate on survey responses, aid with in-
terpretations, and clarify questions of the research team.
Before measuring the physical demands of riding, the lead
researcher visited each selected site and, with the guidance
of an expert familiar with the local trails, developed a
representative off-road trail circuit conforming to the infor-
mation gained from the nationwide survey. Each course
was scaled such that one lap contained all terrain types
of a typical ride and took an average rider approximately
20 min to complete. A ride length of 20 min was selected
because it allowed sufficient time for data collection with-
out causing undue discomfort to the participants who were
required to wear the measurement apparatus throughout the
test. Testing took place in a variety of summer weather
conditions, with the majority of days clear and sunny with a
mean temperature of 28-C (range = 16-C–34-C).
Physical demands analysis. Participants. Ha-
bitual recreational off-road vehicle riders (n= 128) older
than 16 yr, of both genders and both vehicle types (ATV:
males = 43, females = 13; ORM: males 57, females = 15),
were recruited from local off-road riding clubs. Male par-
ticipants were 44 T12.9 yr, 179.1 T6.5 cm, and 91.7 T
20.8 kg, and female participants were 38 T12.1 yr,
165.9 T7.4 cm, and 72.2 T18.0 kg. Mean participant
age was 41 T12.5 yr, with representation from all age
groups 16–29 yr (18.8%), 30–49 yr (49.2%), and 50+ yr
(32%). This study was approved by the university’s human
research ethics review board, and in accord with research
ethics guidelines; written informed consent was provided
by all participants, with those younger than 18 yr also
providing parental consent after verbal explanation of
procedures.
At the onset, riders were led through the trail for ac-
commodation and safety. All riders used their own off-road
riding gear and vehicle to avoid the necessity for habit-
uation to new equipment. Before data collection, which is
detailed below, participants rode laps of the course for
varying amounts of time (range from 0 to 140 min, mean =
48 T24.2 min) at a typical riding pace. This pretesting
ride volume was divided into quartiles of time (G30 min,
30–59 min, 60–89 min, and Q90 min) and used to deter-
mine whether the demands of riding changed as the dura-
tion of a ride increased. Speed and distance were collected
using portable GPS technology (T6; Suunto Oy, Vantaa,
Finland). To determine the total time spent sitting and
standing while riding, a subset of participants (n= 40) were
monitored using a specifically designed pressure-sensitive
seat switch with an automatic timing device to record the
total time the rider’s buttocks were not in contact with the
seat. Standing time was subtracted from total ride time to
calculate the sitting time.
Aerobic involvement. The acute cardiorespiratory de-
mand of off-road riding was assessed using ambulatory
oxygen consumption (COSMED Fitmate, Rome, Italy) and
HR monitoring. After the pretesting ride of varying lengths,
riders were monitored for one complete lap of the course.
The analyzer, which has been shown to be valid and reli-
able for use with adults (24), was worn by participants in
a backpack, with the sampling lines running from the top
of the bag, over the rider’s shoulder, and to the mouth-
piece, which passed through the front of a specially mod-
ified helmet (Fig. 1). The mouthpiece, which contained both
FIGURE 1—Ambulatory oxygen consumption measurement while
riding an off-road vehicle. The rider’s nose is plugged and all expired
air is expelled through the mouthpiece which contains a volume meter
and expired air sample line held in place by the modified chin guard of
the helmet. Inset top left: Reverse angle view of the metabolic com-
puter (with protective padding) in the backpack as worn by riders.
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the open end of the expired air sample line and a flow
meter, was secured in place by the chin guard of the hel-
met, and enough length was provided in the sampling lines
that the rider’s movement was unrestricted. HR was re-
corded using a chest strap that transmitted information to
a wristwatch where it was stored. A sampling frequency
of 5 s was used, on the basis of pilot study experience,
to avoid data loss due to sampling noise. Data were up-
loaded to a computer using Suunto Training Manager
Software (Suunto Oy) and were visually inspected for noise
outliers. After the graphical confirmation of steady-state
exercise, points that fell more than 2 SD and did not rep-
resent a systematic divergence from the mean were
considered outliers and were removed.
The majority of riders (n= 90) also participated in a
laboratory exercise test with analysis of expired gas using
open-circuit spirometry (S-3A/II oxygen, CD-3A carbon
dioxide; AEI Technologies, Pittsburgh, PA) to determine
V
˙O
2
and HR relationship during a progressively ramped
treadmill test to V
˙O
2max
using 2-min stages. Participants
began walking (1.6 mIs
j1
, 0% elevation), progressed to a
slow jog (2.2 mIs
j1
, 0% elevation), and then ramped with
0.45 mIs
j1
increases until the individual’s maximal safe
running speed was reached, followed by 2% incremental
increases in elevation. If subjects were unable to jog/run,
the speed was adjusted to accommodate the fastest pace
they could maintain, and the incline was increased incre-
mentally as above. The test was terminated when V
˙O
2
did
not increase at least 150 mLImin
j1
with an increase in
workload, when HR did not increase with increases in
exercise intensity, or when the participant reached volitional
fatigue and had an RPE greater than 17 on the Borg 6–20
scale (14). This allowed for comparison of the metabolic
demand recorded while riding to the laboratory HR–V
˙O
2
relationship throughout submaximal to maximal workloads
(Fig. 2). For analysis, the aerobic component of riding was
described as both the mean %VO
2max
and the cumulative
percentage of time spent above each intensity: 40%, 50%,
60%, 70%, 80%, and 90% of V
˙O
2
reserve (V
˙O
2
R). To
determine whether the HR response while riding was
artificially elevated above the metabolic demand of the
activity, we created a linear regression of HR and V
˙O
2
for
each rider to compare the riding HR with the labora-
tory exercise test HR, matched for oxygen consumption
(Fig. 2B). The difference between riding HR and exercise
test HR was examined to determine whether any group was
artificially inflated.
Anaerobic involvement. A lactate sample was ob-
tained via a finger prick blood sample from each rider at
the completion of the representative course. A stopwatch
was started immediately upon riding cessation, and a blood
sample was obtained 1 min after riding, which allowed re-
moval of riding gloves and preparation of the hand. A
1-min rest period protocol was used on the basis of the
work of Heck et al. (13) and under the assumption that
lactate would have equilibrated throughout the systemic
circulation during the prolonged steady-state ride. To main-
tain consistency, a 1-min postexercise blood lactate sam-
pling period was also used after the laboratory maximal
treadmill test for comparison with riding values.
Perceived exertion. Riders reported their RPE using
the Borg 6–20 scale (6) considering the ride as a whole
(RPE
avg
) and also during the part of the ride that they
considered to be the most physically demanding (RPE
max
).
Muscular strength and power involvement. Mus-
cular strength was assessed both before and after riding
to determine whether off-road vehicle riding is associated
with quantifiable strength decrements. The assumption of
this testing was that if riding is a fatiguing physical activity
(PA), decreases in maximal strength would be observed af-
ter a typical ride. Handgrip strength was measured using a
dynamometer (Smedley Hand Dynamometer; Stoelting Co,
Wood Dale, IL) adjusted to the second knuckle, and three
trials were allowed per hand, alternating hands each trial
with the maximum grip strength recorded. Upper body push
and pull strengths were assessed using a specifically de-
signed isometric spring-resisted device, which allowed for
quantification of both push and pull strengths at a standard-
ized elbow joint angle of 110-. Three trials were allowed,
alternating push and pull with the highest value recorded.
FIGURE 2—A, Group HR–V
˙O
2
relationship of ORM and ATV riders
during a treadmill graded exercise test. Each participant is represented
at walking pace (1.6 mIs
j1
, 0% grade), jogging (2.2 mIs
j1
, 0%), and
V
˙O
2max
.B, Example of the determination of an individual rider’s
heart rate elevation above the linear regression of HR–V
˙O
2
deter-
mined during the laboratory treadmill test.
PHYSIOLOGICAL DEMANDS OF OFF-ROAD RIDING Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise
d
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Leg power was quantified using a four-jump repeated-
jumping protocol on a digital timing mat (Just Jump;
Probotics, Huntsville, AL), which has been shown to be
a valid method for assessing jump height (22). Subjects
were instructed to jump four times as high and as quickly
as possible without pausing between jumps while keeping
their hands on their hips to control for arm swing (7). This
protocol allowed for the quantification of 1) average jump
height; 2) time on the ground between jumps (ground
time); and 3) power factor, which is the air time divided
by the ground time. For analysis, postriding strength mea-
sures were subtracted from preriding measures and were
expressed as a fatigue score. Using these fatigue measures,
z-scores were calculated for each individual measure. For a
greater power to detect fatigue, right and left handgrip, and
push and pull strength z-scores were summed to create a
composite upper body fatigue score, called the upper body
fatigue index.
Statistical Analyses
Aerobic exercise intensities, riding characteristics (speed,
standing time), lactate measures, deviation in riding HR
from the exercise test HR–V
˙O
2
regression, and muscular
fatigue scores were compared across vehicle type, gender,
and age (16–29, 30–59, and 950 yr) using a 2 23
factorial ANOVA with post hoc Bonferroni comparisons.
An a priori power calculation, using V
˙O
2
as the prime
variable of interest, revealed the necessity of individual
subgroup (vehicle type gender) participation of nQ13
to achieve Q80% power to detect group differences of
5mLIkg
j1
Imin
j1
. Strength measures were examined using
Wilks Lrepeated-measures ANOVA to determine whether
strength differed before and after riding. We examined the
association between total riding time including ride time
before data collection and RPE using Pearson correlation to
determine whether riders reported a higher RPE as a result
of accumulated fatigue. Pearson correlation was further
used to examine the association between RPE and end-ride
lactate as well as standing time versus work of riding and
average speed. All analyses were performed using SPSS
software (version 16.0; SPSS, Inc., Chicago, IL). Signifi-
cance for all tests was set a priori at Pe0.05. Results are
reported as mean TSD.
RESULTS
Composition of a Typical Ride
The components of a typical off-road trail ride by vehicle
type are presented in Figure 3. Differences were reported
regarding the estimated trail width selected by ATV versus
ORM riders because the larger four-wheeled ATV do not fit
on the narrow ‘‘single-track’’ trails often traveled by ORM.
Riders reported a perceived importance of standing while
negotiating rough and/or difficult terrain and a belief that
the use of this technique would greatly affect the demand of
riding. The duration of an off-road trail ride varied between
vehicle types, with ORM riders reporting a typical duration
of 60–120 min and ATV riders reporting 120–180 min.
Physical Demands Analysis
General riding. On average, riders required 24.2 T
11.8 min to complete the 9.4 T4.0-km ride, with no dif-
ference between ATV and ORM. Riding speed (mean
25.0 T8.6 kmIh
j1
) differed among age groups, with those
in the 16- to 29-yr age group riding significantly faster
(,10 kmIh
j1
) than both the 30- to 49- and 950-yr groups
(P= 0.003). No relationship existed between years of rid-
ing experience and riding speed. There were no differences
in riding speed between vehicle types or genders. The per-
centage of time spent standing on a typical ride is greater
in ORM riders (62.0% T28.3%) than that in ATV (23.1% T
27.1%) riders (P= 0.003), but no differences existed among
FIGURE 3—Percentage of a typical off-road ride spent navigating specific terrain features divided by vehicle type.
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age groups or between genders. No relationship existed
between time standing and riding speed or metabolic
demand (V
˙O
2
).
Aerobic involvement. The mean V
˙O
2
requirement
while riding an off-road vehicle was significantly differ-
ent between vehicle types, with a mean requirement
(mLIkg
j1
Imin
j1
)of12.1T4.9 for ATV and 21.3 T7.1 for
ORM (P= 0.002). The absolute cost (LImin
j1
)ofridingan
ORM (1.6 T0.7) was higher than that required to ride an
ATV (1.0 T0.7, P= 0.006). There were differences in V
˙O
2
while riding between men and women (1.5 T0.7 and 0.9 T
0.5 LImin
j1
,respectively,P= 0.001), but no difference ex-
isted among age groups. The %V
˙O
2max
while riding was
higher in ORM than in ATV (51.3% T15.3% vs 39.3% T
19.9%, P= 0.004), with male riders of both vehicle types
typically working at a higher %V
˙O
2max
than females
(49.9% T16.9% vs 39.3% T18.8%, P= 0.016). ORM
riders had a higher HR while riding compared with ATV
riders (141.3 T22.9 vs 123.1 T19.4 bpm, respectively,
P= 0.003), and there was a difference between age groups,
with the youngest riders exhibiting higher HR than the oldest
riders (,9bpm,PG0.05). No association existed between
the metabolic demand of riding and years of riding
experience. There was also no evidence that the demands
of riding change as the ride increases in duration because
there was no association between V
˙O
2
and pretest ride
volume.
Riding an ATV was approximately 4.6 mLIkg
j1
Imin
j1
easier than walking with no incline at 1.6 mIs
j1
for ATV
riders (PG0.001). The same comparison between ORM
participants revealed the work of riding an ORM to be
harder than walking but 4.5 mLIkg
j1
Imin
j1
less than jog-
ging at 2.2 mIs
j1
with no incline (PG0.001). Using linear
regression, the difference between individual mean riding
HR and the HR at the equivalent V
˙O
2
during the treadmill
test (Fig. 2) revealed an HR elevation in both ATV (8.6 T
20.7 bpm) and ORM (14.4 T20.0) in response to the rid-
ing, with no differences in the elevation by age, gender, or
between vehicle types.
The metabolic demand of riding, expressed as the cumu-
lative proportion of time spent above a given %V
˙O
2
R, is
presented in Figure 4. On the basis of the typical ride length
ranges of 60–120 min for ORM and 120–180 min for ATV,
cumulative time per riding session above each 10% in-
crement in %V
˙O
2
R is presented in Table 1.
Anaerobic involvement. Mean postriding blood lac-
tate was 3.4 T2.2 mmolIL
j1
with no difference between
vehicle types or age groups. Men (4.2 T2.9 mmolIL
j1
) had
a significantly higher postriding lactate value than women
(2.7 T1.8 mmolIL
j1
,P= 0.012). Compared with post-
exercise test levels, male and female ATV riders were, re-
spectively, working at 35% (3.8/11.7 mmolIL
j1
) and 26%
(2.4/9.3 mmolIL
j1
) and ORM riders were working at 39%
(4.4/12.8 mmolIL
j1
) and 36% (2.9/10.9 mmolIL
j1
) of peak
lactate levels while riding.
Perceived exertion. Within vehicle types, all riders
rated their perceived exertion similarly with no divergence
in RPE
avg
or RPE
max
among age groups or between
genders. Considering their ride as a whole, ORM riders
reported a higher RPE
avg
(ORM = 13.5 T2.0 vs ATV =
11.8 T2.7, P= 0.007) and RPE
max
(ORM = 15.5 T2.2 vs
ATV = 13.6 T2.9, P= 0.002) than did ATV riders. RPE
avg
FIGURE 4—The cumulative proportion of a recreational trail ride in each exercise intensity range (%V
˙O
2
R) and by vehicle type. *Significantly
different proportion of ride spent at a given intensity between ATV and ORM, PG0.05.
TABLE 1. Cumulative time (min) spent in each exercise intensity range (%V
˙O
2
R)
above the threshold required for changes in fitness (40% V
˙O
2
R) during a typical
60- to 120-min ORM or 120- to 180-min ATV ride.
Cumulative Time (min per Ride)
Intensity (%V
˙O
2
R) ATV ORM
940 16.2–29.2 22.1–26.5
950 9.8–17.7 15.4–18.5
960 5.4–9.7 9.3–11.2
970 2.6–4.8 4.7–5.6
980 1.0–1.7 1.9–2.2
990 0.4–0.6 0.7–0.8
PHYSIOLOGICAL DEMANDS OF OFF-ROAD RIDING Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise
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was similar to their RPE while jogging at 2.2 mIs
j1
during
the graded exercise test. Pretesting ride time, by quartile,
showed no effect on either RPE
avg
or RPE
max
. There was no
correlation between riding lactate and RPE
avg
or RPE
max
.
Muscular strength and power involvement. ORM
riders showed a decrease in both left (0.7 T5.2 kg) and right
(1.8 T6.6 kg) grip strength, and ATV riders showed an
increase in left (1.7 T5.6 kg) and right (1.8 T6.5 kg)
strength (PG0.05) as a result of riding. Changes in hand-
grip strength in both ORM and ATV did not differ between
the left and right hands, and right or left hand dominance
did not relate to the increase or decrease in scores. Fur-
ther, there was no influence of gender or age. Push and pull
strengths decreased by 1.5 T13.3 and 3.4 T11.6 kg, re-
spectively, in ATV riders and by 4.2 T17.3 and 2.6 T
9.4 kg in ORM riders (PG0.05), but these did not differ
by age, gender, or vehicle type. There was a significant
difference in the upper body fatigue index score between
ORM and ATV because ORM fatigued to a greater extent
as a result of riding (P= 0.028), but no differences among
age categories or between sexes existed. There was no
fatiguing effect of off-road riding in either jump height or
power factor. However, an interaction occurred for ground
time between age and sex (P= 0.037), such that riding
caused the oldest female riders to increase ground time to
a greater extent than the two younger female age groups.
No such effect occurred in males.
DISCUSSION
This is the first study to conduct a detailed physiological
examination of recreational off-road vehicle riding and
to consider the potential health and fitness effects that
participation in this activity may have on Canadians. In
general, off-road riding was found to impose a true phys-
iological demand that would be expected to have benefi-
cial effects on health and fitness according to current PA
recommendations (12,26). These objectively measured de-
mands of off-road vehicle riding can be used to refine
previously estimated levels of this type of alternative PA in
future studies and in the commonly referenced compendium
of PA (1).
Physical Demands Analysis
Aerobic involvement. ATV and ORM riding elevate
oxygen consumption by approximately 3.5 and 6 times
resting (METs), respectively. According to current Ameri-
can College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) guidelines (12),
these MET levels are considered moderate intensity, with
ATV and ORM being at the lower and upper ends of the
moderate-intensity spectrum, respectively. Given the vari-
ability in the rides, some individual ATV rides would be
classified as a light-intensity activity (G3 METs), and some
ORM rides would be classified as vigorous-intensity activ-
ity (96 METs) (1,12). Despite possessing a higher V
˙O
2max
than ATV riders (43.3 T8.3 vs 33.5 T7.1 mLIkg
j1
Imin
j1
),
ORM riders still work at a higher %V
˙O
2max
while riding.
Using HR alone, the demands of riding belong to the cat-
egory of ‘‘hard’’ exercise (15), but this value is likely in-
flated because of riding-related psychoemotional responses
(20). There was a disproportionate increase in HR com-
pared with V
˙O
2
while riding both an ORM (14 bpm) and
an ATV (9 bpm). This increase in HR was also likely in-
fluenced by repeated isometric contractions of the fore-
arms, which have been suggested to increase HR during
activities such as rock climbing (33) and motocross riding
(19,20). Although exercising blood pressure was not
monitored in the current study, based on both the aerobic
and resistance exercise related demands of riding and the
established relationship with blood pressure response
(1a,21a,22a), it seems likely that systolic blood pressure
would increase while riding. Combined with the effect of an
inflation in HR over the objectively measured metabolic
demands, it is possible that the rate pressure product
increases dramatically in riders. This has potential to
present a problem to those with occult heart disease (27a),
and is an area for future research. ORM riders stand for a
much larger portion of a typical ride compared with ATV
riders. It is commonly believed by riders that standing
allows them to travel over rough ground more quickly and
easily. However, this was not confirmed in the current study
because we found no relationship between standing time
and speed or V
˙O
2
.
Comparison of V
˙O
2
while riding an ATV with submax-
imal treadmill V
˙O
2
values revealed the aerobic work of
riding an ATV to be less taxing than walking at 1.6 mIs
j1
.
Because the habitual ATV riders in the current study were
not avid exercisers, reached V
˙O
2max
at relatively low tread-
mill workloads, and had perceptibly inefficient gaits, it
is likely that the work of walking was exaggerated. This
highlights the potential importance of alternative PA such
as off-road riding to promote PA in a group who might
otherwise forgo exercise altogether. ORM riders had mod-
erately high aerobic fitness but were also inefficient at
translating the work of running into high speeds on the
treadmill when compared with true runners. Thus, the find-
ing that riding an ORM was more taxing than walking and
less than a slow jog gives a reasonable reference for this
particular group. However, comparison between the phys-
ical demands of off-road riding and those of other common
sports is also informative.
Table 2 reveals the aerobic demands of off-road riding to
be in a similar V
˙O
2
range (12–23 mLIkg
j1
Imin
j1
) as other
common self-paced individual activities (i.e., golf (9), rock
climbing (27,33), alpine skiing (28,29), and active video
gaming (32)), whereas intermittent sprint-based team sports
(hockey (4,30), soccer (10), water polo (11), and basketball
(23)) and predominantly aerobic endurance sports (cycling
(17) and Nordic ski racing (21,37)) tend to have a higher
aerobic demand. Although the acute aerobic demand and
temporally standardized caloric expenditure of an off-road
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TABLE 2. The metabolic demand of common physical activities for comparison with off-road riding.
Sport Level of Play Participants (n, Age, and Gender)
Mean Relative V
˙O
2
(mLIkg
j1
Imin
j1
)
(Absolute V
˙O
2
LImin
j1
) MET
Percentage
of V
˙O
2max
Percentage
of HR
max
Lactate
(mmolIL
j1
) RPE
Net Energy
Expenditure (kcal)
Recreational Off-road
riding
Recreational
(current study)
n= 128, 43 T13 yr, male and female 12.1 ATV, 21.3 ORM (1–1.6) 3.5–6 42.5 ATV, 51.3 ORM 69 ATV, 78 ORM 3.5 ATV, 4.1 ORM 11.8 ATV, 13.5 ORM 218–436 (1 h)
Golf Recreational,
pulling cart
a
n= 20, 64 T7.7 yr, male 14.7
b
(1.2) 4.2 46 458 (9 holes)
Alpine skiing Recreational, ski
instructor guided
c,d
n= 9, 62.6 T5.1 yr, 1 female,
8 males/n= 10, 22.7 T4 yr, female
13.6–18.6 (1–1.4) 4–6 30–60
e
48–94 0.7–6.0 6–17 216–320 (1 h)
Active video
games
Leisure time, dance
video game
f
n= 19, 21.8 T3.5 yr, male 13.1–25.2 (1.1–2) 4–7 23–50 48–80 11–14 210–516 (1 h)
Racquetball Recreational
g
n= 14, 23.1 T2.8 yr, 3 females,
11 males
27.3 (2.2) 8 79
h
12.9 551 (1 h)
Rock
climbing
Noncompetitive
(outdoor)
i
n=843T8 yr, male/n=5,31T
8 yr, female
27.5–28.3 (1.6–2.0) 8 70–72 84–93 1.6–3.3 400–503 (1 h)
Elite climbers (indoor)
j
n= 6 males, 3 females, 18.2 T5.6 yr 20.1–22.7 (1.3–1.4) 6–7 44–50 67–75 310–372 (1 h)
Ice hockey Recreational
k,l
n= 19, 42.7 T6.9 yr, male/junior
and men
32–35 (2.4–2.8) 10 50–85 675–713 (1 h)
Competitive Motocross Elite and nonelite
competitive
m,n
n= 7 elite, 23 T4 yr, n=5
recreational, 28 T4 yr, male/n=9,
21 T4 yr, male
34–42 (2.6–3.2) 10–12 69–94 96–98 4–6 624–657 (1 h)
Mountain
biking
Elite-level course,
competitive, and
elite riders
o
n=5,21T4 yr, male 63 (4) 18 84 90 30% above
4 mmolIL
j1
1105 (1 h)
Nordic
skiing
National level
p,q
n= 10, 17.9 T1 yr, male/n=518T
1 yr, female
53–55 (3.8–4) 15–16 72 93 5.9–10.5 840–1008 (1 h)
Water polo Competitive, nonelite
(5-min quarters)
r
n=8,25T5.7 yr, male 40–50 (3–4.3) 11–14 75–94 85–99 3.8–3.9
s
485–617 (20 min)
Tennis Elite
t,u
n= 20, 26 T3.7 yr, male 27.3–29.1 (2–2.2) 7.8–8.3 51 60–78 2.1 510–634 (1 h)
Basketball Competitive collegiate
level (NCAA)
v
n=6,21T1.0 yr, male/n=6,
20 T1.3 yr, female
33.4–36.9 (2.2–3.4) 9.5–10.5 64.7–66.7 88–89 3.2–4.2 13–14 379–582 (40 min)
Soccer Amateur competitive
w
n= 7, 25.3 T1.2 yr, male 34–48 (2.5–3.5) 10–14 70–94 82–97 1.9–13.4 2.3–9.1 657–949 (1 h)
Absolute V
˙O
2
values calculated using activity representative participant weight (kg) from published literature.
a
Dobrosielski et al. (9).
b
Calculated from MET, healthy adult only. Energy expenditure (kcal) estimated using MET (minus resting) multiplied by body weight and duration.
c
Scheiber et al. (28).
d
Seifert et al. (29).
e
Karlsson et al. (18).
f
Sell et al. (32).
g
Berg et al. (5).
h
Calculated using estimated HR
max
(220 jage).
i
Rodio et al. (27).
j
Sheel et al. (33).
k
Atwal et al. (4).
l
Seliger et al. (30).
m
Konttinen et al. (19).
n
Konttinen et al. (20).
o
Impellizzeri et al. (17).
p
Larsson and Henriksson-Larsen (21).
q
Welde et al. (37).
r
Goodwin and Cumming (11).
s
Platanou and Geladas (25).
t
Seliger et al. (31).
u
Smekal et al. (34).
v
Narazaki et al. (23).
w
Esposito et al. (10).
PHYSIOLOGICAL DEMANDS OF OFF-ROAD RIDING Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise
d
1351
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Copyright © 2010 by the American College of Sports Medicine. Unauthorized reproduction of this article is prohibited.
vehicle ride are lower that those in sports such as com-
petitive mountain biking, the likelihood of PA adherence
and duration are important considerations. If the caloric
expenditure of a 60-min cross-country mountain bike ride
(1105 kcal at an elite race pace) is compared with a typical-
duration (ORM = 120 min and ATV = 180 min) off-road
vehicle ride (ATV = 654 kcal and ORM = 872 kcal), the
caloric discrepancy in Table 2 greatly decreases.
If performed on at least 5 d of the week for a duration of
Q30 min, off-road riding would fit the ACSM’s updated PA
recommendations as an acceptable form of PA to stimulate
changes in health-related fitness and health; however, the
typical pattern of long-duration and infrequent bouts
reported by habitual riders may be less effective considering
the ACSM’s statement that aerobic endurance training G2
dIwk
j1
,atG40%–50% of V
˙O
2
R generally does not provide
sufficient stimulus for maintaining fitness in healthy adults
(2). Furthermore, given that only 14% of an ATV ride and
38% of an ORM ride are within the intensity range required
to stimulate changes in aerobic fitness (Fig. 4), exercise
training time, as opposed to simple ride duration, must be
considered in PA guideline adherence. In a ride lasting from
120 to 180 min, an ATV rider only spends 16–30 min
above the level required to stimulate changes in aerobic
fitness. Similarly, ORM riders are above this level for 22–
27 min during a 60- to 120-min ride. Nevertheless, given
the guideline of approximately 450–750 METIminIwk
j1
of
combined moderate- and vigorous-intensity PA, habitual
riders are accumulating between 420 METIminIwk
j1
(3.5 METs 120 min, ATV) and 720 METIminIwk
j1
(6 METs 120 min, ORM), which approximates this
recommended value. It has yet to be determined if infre-
quent longer bouts of PA, summing to the same absolute
weekly energy expenditure, lead to the same health benefits
as shorter-duration, frequent exercise. This particular dose–
response issue examining the effects of long-duration low-
frequency exercise on health-related fitness outcomes is an
area for future research.
Anaerobic involvement and perceived exertion.
Lactate levels measured at the end of exercise confirmed
that off-road vehicle riding is primarily aerobic exercise
(13). We did not have the capacity to measure lactate levels
throughout the duration of a ride. However, assuming that
the values observed after ride were representative of mean
riding levels, off-road riding is at an intensity just below
the level of uncompensated blood lactate accumulation
(4 mmolIL
j1
). On the basis of participants’ common ref-
erence to ‘‘arm pump,’’ or a rigid contracture of the forearm
musculature, which occurs from squeezing the handlebars
while riding, we speculate that riders purposely adjust
riding speed to maintain their exercise intensity below a
level that could impair their ability to safely operate the
vehicle due to the arm muscle pain associated with lactate
accumulation. Blood lactate accumulation after the graded
exercise test was considerably higher than levels recorded
while riding, supporting our postulation that riders adjust-
down the riding workload to avoid acidosis despite a phys-
iological ability to function at higher anaerobic workloads
and blood lactate levels.
Perceived exertion is closely, but not perfectly, related to
HR response because it is influenced by many physiological
processes and it has input signals from the peripheral mus-
cles and joints, the cardiovascular and respiratory systems,
and the central nervous system (6). When allowed to self-
select a training intensity, both fit and unfit individuals
choose an intensity of approximately 60% of V
˙O
2max
,or
11–14 RPE (8), and self-adjust their overall power output
accordingly to maintain this level. In this study, both ORM
and ATV riders selected exercise intensities within this
RPE range, with ORM riders choosing a slightly higher
RPE
avg
and RPE
max
corresponding to the greater aerobic
work they were accomplishing. While jogging on the tread-
mill within this 11–14 RPE range, both ATV and ORM
participants in our study were working at approximately
60%–65% V
˙O
2max
as expected; however, while riding at
the same RPE, participants were only working at between
43% and 51% V
˙O
2max
.
Off-road vehicle riders perform considerable physical
work using their arms and upper body while riding, evident
in the observed fatigue in this study and as documented
using EMG monitoring in an examination of motocross
riding (20). Because upper body work involves relatively
small muscle groups compared with locomotive work using
the legs (i.e., running or cycling), V
˙O
2
is lower, and these
smaller muscle groups of the upper extremities are pushed
toward anaerobic energy pathways. Repeated isometric
contractions are also likely to occlude blood flow thus re-
stricting oxidative pathways further. Although the lactic
acid production of these smaller muscles does not greatly
elevate systemic blood lactate levels, riders likely perceive
the local acid buildup as a high level of exertion thus
explaining the elevated RPE scores.
Muscular strength and power involvement. Off-
road vehicle riding caused fatigue, indicating a strength
involvement to off-road vehicle riding, which corroborates
evidence of high EMG muscle activation in motocross
riders (20). Unexpectedly, we observed an increase in ATV
grip strength from before to after the ride, potentially ex-
plainable as a stimulatory effect of riding. Elite motocross
riders have been shown to have elevated urinary catechol-
amine levels (adrenaline, noradrenalin, dopamine) after a
simulated race (20), and there is evidence that forearm
strength can be augmented as a result of sympathetic ner-
vous stimulation caused by an unexpected loud noise (16).
Although it is unlikely that the moderate-intensity off-road
riding caused a stimulatory effect itself, it is possible that
this effect was driven by the thrill of riding and/or the fear
of a fall. This makes the observed decrease in ORM grip
strength a stronger evidence of fatigue because the effect
of riding was powerful enough to overcome this excitatory
effect in these riders. Considering previous research com-
paring the grip strength of habitual recreational off-road
http://www.acsm-msse.org1352 Official Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine
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Copyright © 2010 by the American College of Sports Medicine. Unauthorized reproduction of this article is prohibited.
riders to the normative Canadian population (Burr et al.,
unpublished observations) in which there was no improve-
ment in strength (except in older riders), it seems that off-
road riding affects muscular endurance more so than
strength.
Increases in musculoskeletal fitness are beneficial in at-
tenuating weight gain, preventing obesity, and improving
insulin sensitivity as well as a host of other risk factors for
disease (35,36). Upper body push and pull strengths
showed a clear fatiguing effect of riding in both vehicle
types, signifying an upper body strength requirement to off-
road riding, which could lead to beneficial training in-
creases in musculoskeletal fitness. An effect of lower body
fatigue was observed only in the ‘‘ground time’’ of older
female participants, suggesting that lower body musculature
may be important in off-road riding in older females, but
this effect was not seen in younger female riders or in males
who may have been more habituated to the activity. EMG
measures of motocross riders have shown that the lower
body musculature is highly activated during motocross rid-
ing. However, similar to handgrip, a fatiguing effect in leg
extension was evident only in the less experienced, and less
habituated, motocross riders (20). Further examination
of both the upper and the lower body musculoskeletal
demands of riding using quantifiable strength outcomes is
required.
In conclusion, off-road vehicle riding is a recreational
activity associated with moderate-intensity cardiovascular
demand and fatigue-inducing muscular strength challenges,
particularly for upper body musculature. The metabolic
demand of off-road riding is at an intensity level associated
with health and fitness benefits in accord with the guide-
lines of both Health Canada and the ACSM. Potential
effects on health and fitness may be augmented by the
beneficial effect of increased caloric expenditure. In gen-
eral, off-road vehicle riding is similar in aerobic demand to
many other recreational, self-paced, sporting activities such
as golf, rock climbing, and alpine skiing. This examina-
tion of off-road vehicle riding is valuable for understand-
ing the physical demands of this alternative mode of
recreational PA in the context of potential health-related
fitness outcomes.
This study was supported through a research grant provided by
the Canadian Off-Highway Vehicles Distributors Council, which
included funds from both private and government sources.
Publication of the results of the present study does not con-
stitute endorsement by the ACSM.
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... The physical and physiological demands of motorcycle motorsport are well documented (Baur et al., 2006;D'Artibale et al., 2008;Burr et al., 2010a;Burr et al., 2010b). Data on tactical approaches to motorcycle racing, and specifically speedway, are less evident and predominantly anecdotal. ...
Conference Paper
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Introduction Motorcycle speedway had its first official UK ‘meet’ at Ilford Motor Cycle Club in 1928. Meets consist of a series of 15 heats with 4 riders in each heat racing around an oval track for 4 laps. The track length ranges from 260m to 425m. Points are awarded for the first 3 finishers. The motorcycles are up to 500cc, have one gear and no brakes (May, 1978). As with most track based sport the shortest distance around the track is the most efficient, however, unlike other motorsport, there is no qualifying for pole position nor is there staggered starting positions to accommodate the change in perimeter distance from the inner boundary. As a result anecdotal evidence suggests the starting gate position and rider position at the first corner are predictors of finishing position in each heat. There is no published data to support this. Aim To explore the relationship between starting gate position, and first corner position, on race result in UK Premier League Speedway. Method Data on 45 heats from three UK Premier League meets for one team were recorded. A simple handheld spreadsheet recorded the starting gate position (1 = inside to 4 = outside) for each rider, their position at the first corner (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th) and their final official position at the finish line. A total of 88 sets of data were recorded. The winning time for each heat was also recorded. Analysis via Spearman’s Rank Order correlation coefficient examined the relationship between the riders starting gate, first corner positions and their corresponding finishing position in the heats. Results The mean winning heat time (sd) was 51.470.76s. Significant (p<0.05) positive correlation values were noted between all 3 performance measures. Correlation values of r=0.64; r=0.24; r= 0.42 were noted for start and first corner, start and finish and first corner and finish positions respectively. Descriptive data analysis noted: • 5 (23%) gate position 1 starts resulted in a 1st place finish; • 15 (68%) gate position 1 starts led at the first corner; • 8 (53%) gate position 1 starts, and who led at the first corner, resulted in a 1st place race result; • 10 (46%) gate position 2 starts resulted in a 1st place finish; • 5 (23%) gate position 2 starts led at the first corner 3 (60%) position 2 gate starts, and who led at the first corner, resulted in a 1st place race result. Discussion The physical and physiological demands of motorcycle motorsport are well documented (Baur et al., 2006; D’Artibale et al., 2008; Burr et al., 2010a; Burr et al., 2010b). Data on tactical approaches to motorcycle racing, and specifically speedway, are less evident and predominantly anecdotal. The data in the current study suggests that starting gate position is not as influential on final race position when compared to the position of the rider at the first corner. Both are significantly correlated to final race position however the correlation statistic suggests the stronger relationship (r=0.42 vs r=0.24). Descriptive data noted that 53% of riders who were first at the first corner won the race. The data also suggested that starting in the gate position 1 resulted in 68% of riders arriving at the first corner in first place. However riders starting in gate position 2 had a higher percentage of 1st place finishes. Starting gate position and the rider position at the first corner appear to predict the riders finish position in motorcycle speedway heats. Tactically, irrespective of the starting gate position, the riders should focus on being in the lead at the first corner in order to give them the best opportunity to win the heat. Motorcycle alignment at the gate, environmental and track condition, and track surface material may also contribute to finish positions. References Baur, H. et al., (2006) Reactivity, stability and strength performance capacity in motor sport. British Journal of Sports Medicine. vol 40, 11, p906. Burr, J. et al. (2010a) Physiological demands of off road vehicle riding. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, vol 42, 7, p1345. Burr, J. et al., (2010b) A cross sectional examination of the physical fitness and selected health attributes of recreational all-terrain vehicle riders and off-road motorcyclists. Journal of Sports Sciences, vol 28, 13, p1423. D’Artibale, E. et al., (2008) Heart rate and blood lactate concentration of malle road-race motorcyclists. Journal of Sports Sciences, vol 216, 7, p683. May, C. (1978) Ride it ! The Complete Book of Speedway. Haynes Publishers: UK
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