Purpose: Recognizing the encouraging effect of challenging events, the HandbikeBattle (HBB) was created to promote exercise among wheelchair users. The purpose of this study was to reveal the effects on physical fitness and health outcomes of four-month handbike training under free-living conditions in preparation for the event.
Methods: In this prospective cohort study, 59 relatively inexperienced handyclists participated in the HBB of 2013 or 2014. Incremental exercise tests were conducted, respiratory function was tested and anthropometrics were measured before and after the preparation period. Main outcome measures were peak power output (POpeak), peak oxygen uptake (VO2peak) and waist circumference, of which the changes were tested using repeated measures ANOVA. To detect possible determinants of changes in physical fitness, a linear regression analysis was conducted with personal characteristics, executed training volume and upper-extremity complaints during the training period as independent variables.
Results: POpeak, VO2peak and waist circumference improved significantly with 17%, 7% and 4.1%, respectively. None of the included variables were significant determinants for the changes in POpeak found as a result of the training.
Conclusion: A challenging event such as the HBB provokes training regimes among participants of sufficient load to realize substantial improvements in physical fitness and health outcomes.