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Effect of ankle weight loading and walking speed on metabolic and neuromuscular responses and lower limb kinematics during treadmill walking

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Exercise intensity during walking can be increased by attaching an external load or accelerating the walking speed. However, the combination of these effects on the human body remains unclear. To investigate the influence of different walking speeds and ankle weight loads on metabolic and neuromuscular responses and lower limb kinematics during walking.


Twelve healthy participants walked on a treadmill under eight conditions (speed: 4 and 7 km/h × ankle weight loads: 0, 2, 4, and 6 kg). We recorded \({\dot{\text{V}}\text{O}}_{2}\), heart rate (HR), lower limb neuromuscular activities, and kinematic data.


The interaction effect of speed and ankle weight load on \({\dot{\text{V}}\text{O}}_{2}\) and HR was significant (p < 0.05). \({\dot{\text{V}}\text{O}}_{2}\) and HR were higher during walking at 7 than 4 km/h (p < 0.05). \({\dot{\text{V}}\text{O}}_{2}\) rapidly rose with an increase in ankle weight loading from 4 to 6 kg during walking at 7 km/h compared with that at 4 km/h (p < 0.05). Rectus femoris proximal activity with 6 kg ankle weight loading was higher than that under the no-loading condition during walking at 7 km/h (p < 0.05). During walking at 4 km/h, medial gastrocnemius muscle activity with 4- and 6 kg ankle weight loading was significantly higher than under the no-loading condition (p < 0.05). All targeted lower limb muscle activity and the maximum hip flexion angle were greater during walking at 7 than 4 km/h.


Our results suggest that the effect of ankle weight loading on metabolic and neuromuscular responses is potentiated by a faster walking speed.

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Fig. 1
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Availability of data and materials

Data are available from the authors upon reasonable request.



Ankle weight


Analysis of variance




Gluteus maximus


Hurt rate


Metabolic equivalent


Medial gastrocnemius


Rectus femoris proximal


Vastus lateralis

\({\dot{\text{V}}\text{O}}_{2}\) :

Oxygen uptake


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Authors and Affiliations



SK: conceptualization, methodology, formal analysis, investigation, data curation, writing—original draft preparation, visualization. HA: conceptualization, writing—review and editing, supervision, funding acquisition. KW: conceptualization, methodology, writing—review and editing, project administration, funding acquisition.

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Correspondence to Shun Kunugi.

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Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest. This work was supported by AMED (Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development) [Grant number JP19le0110012]. The funding source had no involvement in study design, collection, analysis and interpretation of data, in writing the manuscript, or in the decision to submit for publication.

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The study was approved by the Research Ethics Committee of Chukyo University (No. 2019-002) and conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki.

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All participants provided written informed consent.

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Kunugi, S., Akatsu, H. & Watanabe, K. Effect of ankle weight loading and walking speed on metabolic and neuromuscular responses and lower limb kinematics during treadmill walking. Sport Sci Health (2023).

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