Exploring upper-limb tests for cardiopulmonary function assessment

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How can inclusion in cardiopulmonary exercise testing be achieved for people with lower limb injuries or disabilities that make cycling impossible? Conventional exercise assessments rely primarily on lower limb exercise to determine maximal oxygen uptake—a cardiopulmonary function metric that indicates the maximum amount of oxygen the body can take up in one minute. If the lower limbs cannot be exercised, it requires an upper limb substitute. However, no clear upper limb exercise testing protocol has been fully established.

A team of Osaka Metropolitan University researchers led by Professor Hisayo Yokoyama of the Research Center for Urban Health and Sports, Specially Appointed Assistant Professor Miwako Deguchi and Specially Appointed Professor Nobuko Hongu of the Graduate School of Human Life and Ecology investigated whether cardiopulmonary exercise tests. The upper limbs may be considered as reliable as those conducted with the lower limbs. The study estimated the relationship between heart rate and oxygen uptake and maximal oxygen uptake during exercise tests using bicycle and arm crank ergometers in 17 male collegiate athletes from rowing and cycling clubs with excellent upper and lower limb function, respectively.

Results showed that estimated maximal oxygen uptake was lower on the arm crank ergometer than on the cycle ergometer for both the rowing and cycling groups.

Exercise testing using an arm crank ergometer underestimates cardiopulmonary function, regardless of upper limb training status. In order to conduct future exercise tests with arm crank ergometers to assess cardiopulmonary function, it is necessary to clarify what factors influence the relationship between heart rate and oxygen uptake during exercise. We intend to use the results obtained in this study as a springboard for further research to expand the applicability of exercise testing using the upper limbs.”

Dr. Miwako Deguchi

Their findings were published Applied Science.


Journal Reference:

Deguchi, M., etc. (2023). Is exercise testing with arm crank ergometer an alternative to cycle ergometer for assessing exercise capacity? Applied Science. doi.org/10.3390/app132312926.

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