Eccentric arm cycling: A potential exercise for wheelchair users

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We compared metabolic, cardiorespiratory, and perceptual responses to acute eccentric (ECCarm) and traditional concentric (CONarm) arm cycling in a cohort of wheelchair users.


Single-group repeated measures.


Exercise physiology laboratory.


A convenience sample of seven manual wheelchair users (45±15yrs; 87±21kg; 1.8±0.1m; time in wheelchair 17±14yrs) volunteered.


Participants performed 5min trials of eccentric and concentric arm cycling at 1) iso-metabolic rate (35% of peak oxygen consumption) and 2) iso-power output (80W). Exercise trials were performed on an eccentric/concentric arm cycle ergometer that integrated with a personal wheelchair.

Main Outcome Measures

Primary measures included power output, oxygen consumption, heart rate, ventilation, blood lactate, and perceived exertion. Secondary measures assessed included perceived muscle soreness, likability, frequency of use, and duration of use.


At iso-metabolic rate, power production during ECCarm was ∼3x greater than CONarm (80±36 vs. 26±10W; P<0.01). When exercising at iso-power output, oxygen consumption during ECCarm was ∼1/2 that of CONarm(0.66±0.15 vs 1.30±0.65L/min; P=0.03). Heart rate and perceived exertion were also substantially lower during ECCarm (both P<0.05). Muscle soreness assessed 24-72h post-exercise was minimal (<1.0cm). Preference scores and anticipated frequency and duration of use did not differ between ECCarm and CONarm (all P>0.05).


ECCarm provided a metabolically efficient (high-force, low energy cost) and usable (wheelchair accessible, safe, likable) exercise for wheelchair users. Implementation of ECCarm with this population is promising but additional research is needed to confirm this possibility.

Publisher's Statement

© 2018 Published by Elsevier Inc. on behalf of the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine. Publisher's version of record: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apmr.2018.11.013

Publication Title

Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation