European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 94, Issue 5–6, pp 558–568 | Cite as

Inverse relationship between exercise economy and oxidative capacity in muscle

  • Gary R. HunterEmail author
  • Marcas M. Bamman
  • D. Enette Larson-Meyer
  • Denis R. Joanisse
  • John P. McCarthy
  • Tamilane E. Blaudeau
  • Bradley R. Newcomer
Original Article


An inverse relationship has been shown between running and cycling exercise economy and maximum oxygen uptake \(\left(\dot{V}\hbox{O}_{2{\rm max}}\right).\) The purposes were: 1) determine the relationship between walking economy and \(\dot{V}\hbox{O}_{2{\rm max}};\) and 2) determine the relationship between muscle metabolic economy and muscle oxidative capacity and fiber type. Subjects were 77 premenopausal normal weight women. Walking economy \(\left(1/\dot{V}\hbox{O}_{2}\right)\) was measured at 3 mph and \(\dot{V}\hbox{O}_{2{\rm max}}\) during graded treadmill test. Muscle oxidative phosphorylation rate (OxPhos), and muscle metabolic economy (force/ATP) were measured in calf muscle using 31P MRS during isometric plantar flexion at 70 and 100% of maximum force, (HI) and (MI) respectively. Muscle fiber type and citrate synthase activity were determined in the lateral gastrocnemius. Significant inverse relationships (r from −0.28 to −0.74) were observed between oxidative metabolism measures and exercise economy (walking and muscle). Type IIa fiber distribution was inversely related to all measures of exercise economy (r from −0.51 to −0.64) and citrate synthase activity was inversely related to muscle metabolic economy at MI (r=−0.56). In addition, Type IIa fiber distribution and citrate synthase activity were positively related to \(\dot{V}\hbox{O}_{2{\rm max}}\) and muscle OxPhos at HI and MI (r from 0.49 to 0.70). Type I fiber distribution was not related to any measure of exercise economy or oxidative capacity. Our results support the concept that exercise economy and oxidative capacity are inversely related. We have demonstrated this inverse relationship in women both by indirect calorimetry during walking and in muscle tissue by 31P MRS.


Muscle metabolism Maximum oxygen uptake Efficiency Muscle fiber types 



We thank Roland Weinsier, Harry Vaughn, Betty Darnell, Paul Zuckerman, David Fields, Robert Petri, and Nancy Davis for their invaluable assistance. Research was supported by NIH grants R01 DK 49779 and R01 DK 51684, DRR General Clinical Research Center grant RR-32, and Clinical Nutrition Research Unit grant P30-DK 56336. Stouffer’s Lean Cuisine entrees, Nestle Food Co, Solon, OH and Weight Watchers Smart Ones HJ Heinz Frozen Foods, Pittsburgh, PA kindly provided food for dietary control.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gary R. Hunter
    • 1
    Email author
  • Marcas M. Bamman
    • 2
  • D. Enette Larson-Meyer
    • 3
  • Denis R. Joanisse
    • 4
  • John P. McCarthy
    • 5
  • Tamilane E. Blaudeau
    • 6
  • Bradley R. Newcomer
    • 7
  1. 1.Human Studies DepartmentUniversity of Alabama at BirminghamBirminghamUSA
  2. 2.Physiology and Biophysics DepartmentUniversity of Alabama at BirminghamBirminghamUSA
  3. 3.Pennington Biomedical Research CenterBaton RougeUSA
  4. 4.Laval Hospital Research CenterSaint FoyCanada
  5. 5.Physical Therapy DepartmentUniversity of Alabama at BirminghamBirmingham
  6. 6.Human Studies DepartmentUniversity of Alabama at BirminghamBirmingham
  7. 7.Dept of Critical Care and Diagnostic CareUniversity of Alabama At BirminghamBirmingham

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