European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 118, Issue 8, pp 1573–1578 | Cite as

Inverse relationship between changes of maximal aerobic capacity and changes in walking economy after weight loss

  • Juliano H. Borges
  • Stephen J. Carter
  • Harshvardhan Singh
  • Gary R. Hunter
Original Article



The aims of this study were to: (1) determine the relationships between maximum oxygen uptake (\(\dot {V}\)O2max) and walking economy during non-graded and graded walking among overweight women and (2) examine potential differences in \(\dot {V}\)O2max and walking economy before and after weight loss.


One-hundred and twenty-four premenopausal women with a body mass index (BMI) between 27 and 30 kg/m2 were randomly assigned to one of three groups: (a) diet only; (b) diet and aerobic exercise training; and (c) diet and resistance exercise training. All were furnished with standard, very-low calorie diet to reduce BMI to < 25 kg/m2. \(\dot {V}\)O2max was measured using a modified-Bruce protocol while walking economy (1-net \(\dot {V}\)O2) was obtained during fixed-speed (4.8 k·h−1), steady-state treadmill walking at 0% grade and 2.5% grade. Assessments were conducted before and after achieving target BMI.


Prior to weight loss, \(\dot {V}\)O2max was inversely related (P < 0.05) with non-graded and graded walking economy (r = − 0.28 to − 0.35). Similar results were also observed following weight loss (r = − 0.22 to − 0.28). Additionally, we also detected a significant inverse relationship (P < 0.05) between the changes (∆, after weight loss) in ∆\(\dot {V}\)O2max, adjusted for fat-free mass, with non-graded and graded ∆walking economy (r = − 0.37 to − 0.41).


Our results demonstrate \(\dot {V}\)O2max and walking economy are inversely related (cross-sectional) before and after weight loss. Importantly though, ∆\(\dot {V}\)O2max and ∆walking economy were also found to be inversely related, suggesting a strong synchrony between maximal aerobic capacity and metabolic cost of exercise.


Efficiency \(\dot {V}\)O2max Walking oxygen uptake Walking energy cost 


\(\dot {V}\)O2max

Delta of maximum oxygen uptake

∆walking economy

Delta of waking economy

Net\(\dot {V}\)O2flat walking

Net oxygen uptake during flat walking

Net\(\dot {V}\)O2grade walking

Net oxygen uptake during grade walking

\(\dot {V}\)CO2

Carbon dioxide production

\(\dot {V}\)O2

Oxygen uptake

\(\dot {V}\)O2flat walking

Oxygen uptake during flat walking

\(\dot {V}\)O2grade walking

Oxygen uptake during grade walking

\(\dot {V}\)O2max

Maximum oxygen uptake

\(\dot {V}\)O2resting

Resting oxygen uptake



This work was supported by the NIH Grants P30 DK56336, P60 DK079626, UL 1RR025777. Clinical trial “Exercise training in obesity-prone Black and White women”, registration identification number NCT00067873, and url:

Author Contribution Statement.

JB wrote the manuscript and performed data and statistical analysis. SC reviewed and edited the manuscript. HS reviewed and edited the manuscript. GH conceived and designed research, wrote, and reviewed and edited the manuscript. All authors read and approved the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declared no conflict.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Juliano H. Borges
    • 1
    • 2
  • Stephen J. Carter
    • 1
  • Harshvardhan Singh
    • 3
  • Gary R. Hunter
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Nutrition ScienceUniversity of Alabama at BirminghamBirminghamUSA
  2. 2.Growth and Development Laboratory, Center for Investigation in Pediatrics, School of MedicineUniversity of CampinasCampinasBrazil
  3. 3.Department of Physical TherapyUniversity of Alabama at BirminghamBirminghamUSA

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