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Annals of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine
Volume 56, n° S1
page e212 (octobre 2013)
Doi : 10.1016/
Médecine du sport (1) : physiologie et traumatologie du sport

Aerobic performance and isokinetic assessement of submariners before and after patrol

A. Nguyen a, , B. Medee b, C. Guegan c, O. Remy-Neris b, C. Verret d
a Service de médecine physique et de réadaptation, hôpital d’Instruction des Armées Clermont Tonnerre, rue du Colonel Fonferrier, 29240 Brest, France 
b Service de médecine physique et de réadaptation, CHU de Brest, Brest, France 
c Centre de médecine du sport, Brest, Brest, France 
d Centre d’épidémiologie et de santé publique des Armées, hôpital d’Instruction des Armées Bégin, Saint-Mandé, France 

Corresponding author.

Keywords : Cardiovascular deconditioning, Muscle Strength, Isokinetic evaluation, Muscular fatigue, Submariners

Introduction .– The operational capacity of a nuclear submarine is closely linked to the performance of his crew, especially physical capacities. The constraint environment in submarine (reduced living space and sports equipments, special rhythm of work, lack of natural light, stressful environment) and limited participation could lead to a state of deconditioning in effort after deployment by a reduction of physical activity.

Purpose .– The main aim of this study was to evaluate whether a submarine deployment could lead to central and/or peripheral deconditioning.

Methods .– Thirty-four submariners (aged 26.6±4.3years, watch schedule, practising aerobic sports 80%) underwent a triangular type cardio respiratory test with an electromagnetic cycle ergometer, an assessment of muscles strength (quadriceps and hamstring) with an isokinetic dynamometer at 60°/s and 180°/s and anthropometric measurements, before and after a patrol period of two months (65±2.68days).

Results .– The aerobic capacity at maximal exercise, after deployment, significantly decreased of 3% (P =0.03), with VO2 max before patrol at 46.4±6.5mL/kg/min and after at 44.9±5.7mL/kg/min. There was no significant difference in heart rate at maximal effort, maximal aerobic power or sub-maximal VO2 at 200W. Regarding muscular parameters, isokinetic fatigue index at 180°/s was significantly increased of 11% (1.8±0.6 vs 2±0.6J/s, P =0.05) for quadriceps as well as for hamstrings of 8% (1.2±0.8 vs 1.3±0.3J/s, P =0.05). No significant difference for explosive strength was found for quadriceps/hamstrings peaks torques at 60°/s. Anthropometric values (weight, fat mass and waist measurement) increased significantly (P <0.05).

Conclusion .– This study shows that submariners have impaired cardio-respiratory performances, accompanied by increased peripheral muscular fatigability after two-months submarine deployment.

Further reading

Fothergill DM, Sims JR. Aerobic performance of Special Operations Forces personnel after a prolonged submarine deployment. Ergonomics 2000;43:1489–500.

Bennett BL, Schlichting CL, Bondi KR. Cardiorespiratory fitness and cognitive performance before and after confinement in a nuclear submarine. Aviat Space Environ Med 1985;56:1085–91.

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