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    Comparative effect of a 1 h session of electrical muscle stimulation and walking activity on energy expenditure and substrate oxidation in obese subjects
    It has previously been shown that low-frequency neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) techniques can induce increases in energy expenditure similar to those associated with exercise. This study investigated the metabolic and cardiovascular effects of a 1 h session of lower limb NMES and compared cardiovascular response with that observed during walking in nine obese subjects (three males) (age = 43.8 ± 3.0 years; body mass index (BMI) = 41.5 ± 1.8 kg/m2). The NMES protocol consisted of delivering a complex pulse pattern to the thigh muscles for 1 h. The walking test consisted of five 4-min bouts starting at 2 km/h with 1 km/h increments up to 6 km/h. In both tests, an open-circuit gas analyser was used to assess O2 consumption (O2), CO2 production (CO2), respiratory exchange ratio (RER), and heart rate (HR). Rates of fat oxidation (RFO) and carbohydrate oxidation (CHO) were estimated by indirect calorimetry. One hour of NMES significantly increased O2, HR, RER, and mean energy expenditure compared with resting values, reaching 8.7 ± 1.3 mL·min−2·kg−1 (47% of O2peak), 114.8 ± 7.5 bpm, 0.95, and 318.5 ± 64.3 kcal/h, respectively. CHO, but not RFO, increased during 1 h of NMES. With NMES, CHO was greater and RFO was less than at all walking speeds except 6 km/h. Lactate also increased more with NMES, to 3.5 ± 0.7 mmol versus a maximum of 1.5 ± 0.3 mmol with the walking protocol. These results suggest that NMES can be used in an obese population to induce an effective cardiovascular exercise response. In fact, the observed increase in energy expenditure induced by 1 h of NMES is clinically important and comparable with that recommended in weight management programs.
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