Background: We have investigated the effect using walking poles and pulling tires at 4 and 6 km·h-1 (1.11 and 1.67 m·s-1) speeds on oxygen uptake (V̇O2) and heart rate.
Methods: Eleven subjects, 6 males, with a mean (SD) age of 25.2 (6.9) years participated in field tests involving walking without poles, walking with poles and tire pulling with poles.
Results: Increasing the load caused the largest increases in energy demand, more than 4 MET. Speed increase also caused substantial energy increase, approximately 4 MET. Increasing the inclination only modestly increased the oxygen uptake, approximately 2 MET. In both level walking and uphill walking, using poles marginally increased oxygen uptake compared to working without poles. Pulling one tire (12.5 kg) required an oxygen uptake of 27 (4) mL·kg-1·min-1 at 4 km·h-1 and 0% inclination. Adding one more tire (6 kg) drove the oxygen uptake further up to 39 (4) mL·kg-1·min-1. This is close to the requirement of level running at 10.5 km·h-1. Pulling both tires at 6 km·h-1 and 5% inclination required a V̇O2 of 54 (6) mL·kg-1·min-1, equal to running uphill at 5% inclination and 12.5 km·h-1 speed. Heart rate rose comparably with oxygen uptake. At 4 km·h-1 and 0% inclination the increase was 29 bpm, from 134 (21) to 163 (22) bpm when going from pulling one tire to two tires. In the hardest exercise, 6 km·h-1 and 5% inclination, heart rate reached 174 (14) bpm.
Conclusions: The study showed that tire pulling even at slow speeds has an energy requirement that is so large that the activity may be feasible as endurance training.