Physical capacity and energy expenditure of cavers Articles uri icon

authors

  • CABRAS, STEFANO
  • MARINI, E.
  • PINNA, V.
  • MAGNANI, S.
  • SAINAS, G.
  • GHIANI, G.
  • VANNI, S.
  • OLLA, S.
  • CURRELI, N.
  • FARINATTI, P.
  • ANTONI, G.
  • TOCCO, F.
  • Rinaldi, A.C.
  • CRISAFULLI, A.

publication date

  • December 2017

start page

  • 1067

volume

  • 8

abstract

  • Caves are an extreme environment for humans because of the high humidity, mud,darkness, and slippery conditions. Explorations can last many hours or even days, andrequire extensive climbing and ropework. Very little is known about the physical capacityof cavers and their energy expenditure (EE) during caving. The physical capacity of 17(7 females) expert cavers (age 43.9 ± 7.3 years) was assessed during an incrementalcycle-ergometer test (IET) with gas exchange analysis. Moreover, a wearable metabolicband (Armband Fit Core) was used to estimate their EE during caving. In terms ofphysical capacity, the IET showed that cavers had a maximum oxygen uptake (VO2max)of 2,248.7 ± 657.8 ml·min−1(i.e., 32.4 ± 6.4 ml·kg−1·min−1), while anaerobic threshold(AT) occurred on average at 74.5% of VO2max. Results from caving sessions providedan average time spent in cave of 9.4 ± 1.2 h while the average EE was 268.8 ± 54.8kcal·h−1, which corresponded to about 40% of VO2max measured during IET. A meandistance of 10.6 ± 2.2 km was covered by subjects. Data from the present investigationprovide evidence that cavers have a level of aerobic physical capacity only slightly higherthan that of sedentary people, thereby suggesting that a high aerobic fitness is notneeded by cavers. Moreover, during caving the EE was on average well below the levelof AT. However, in absolute terms, the total EE was elevated (i.e., 2,672.3 ± 576 kcal intotal) due to the long time spent in caving

keywords

  • Heart rate, stroke volume, blood pressure, blood lactate, exercise pressor reflex