Physiological Fitness and Health Adaptations from Purposeful Training Using Off-Road Vehicles

Prepared by Jamie F. Burr, Veronica K. Jamnik, and Norman Gledhill of York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

The purpose of this study was to evaluate fitness and health adaptations from a training program riding all-terrain vehicles (ATV) and off-road motorcycles (ORM) as the exercise stimulus.


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The purpose of this study was to evaluate fitness and health adaptations from a training program riding all-terrain vehicles (ATV) and off-road motorcycles (ORM) as the exercise stimulus. Participants (n = 58) were randomized to a control group (n = 12) or one of four experimental groups; 2 days/week ATV (n = 11), 2 days/week ORM (n = 12), 4 days/week ATV (n = 11), or 4 days/week ORM (n = 12). Aerobic fitness, musculoskeletal fitness, body composition, clinical health, and quality of life (QOL) were compared at baseline and following 6 weeks of training. In all riding groups, there were improvements in blood pressure (SBP = 9.4 ± 10.1, DBP = 5.8 ± 6.2 mmHg), fasting glucose (0.5 ± 0.7 mmol/l), subcutaneous adiposity (0.9 ± 1.1%), body mass (0.7 ± 2.7 kg), waist circumference (1.3 ± 2.5 cm), and isometric leg endurance (26 ± 44 s). All changes were of moderate to large magnitude (Cohen’s d 0.52–0.94) with the exception of a small loss of body mass (Cohen’s d = 0.27). Although changes occurred in the riding groups for aerobic power (2.9 ± 4.6 ml kg-1 min-1), leg power (172 ± 486 w), and curl-ups (13.2 ± 22.7), these changes were not significantly different from the control group. No significant alterations occurred in resting heart rate, trunk flexibility, back endurance, hand grip strength, long jump, pull/push strength, or push-up ability as a result of training.

Physical domain QOL increased in all 2 days/week riders but mental domain QOL increased in all ORM, but not ATV riders regardless of volume. Ambient carbon monoxide levels while riding (\30 ppm) were within safe exposure guidelines. Positive adaptations can be gained from a training program using off-road vehicle riding as the exercise stimulus.

Published December 24, 2010

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