Pediatric Obesity and Perceived Exertion: Difference Between Weight-Bearing and Non-Weight-Bearing Exercises Performed at Different Intensities

Type Article

Journal Article


D. Thivel; L. Isacco; G. O'Malley; P. Duché

Year of publication



J Sports Sci








Excess body weight composes an important limitation to exercise in obese youth. The aim of this study was to compare the perceived exertion of obese adolescents between weight-bearing (WB; running) and non-weight-Bearing (NWB; cycling) exercises performed at moderate (55% VO2max) and high (75% VO2max) intensities. Twenty-four obese adolescents were recruited. After assessment of their body composition and physical capacities, they had to complete four isoenergetic exercise sessions: (1) a cycling session performed at 55% of their maximal capacities (NWB-55%); (2) a cycling session set at 75% (NWB-75%); (3) a running session at 55% (WB-55%); and (4) a running session at 75% (WB-75%). Perceived exertion was assessed using a visual scale at regular interval. While no significant difference between WB and NWB modalities was observed, the adolescents expressed a significantly lower rate of perceived exertion (RPE) during exercises at 55%VO2max (P < 0.0001). An intensity × modality interaction revealed that RPE was lower at 75% VO2max during NWB exercises (P < 0.05). While obese adolescents expressed lower RPE during exercise at moderate intensity whatever its modality, low level of perceived exertion has been observed during high-intensity exercises and especially during NWB. High-intensity exercise appears well tolerated in adolescents when their body weight is supported.