The exertion of stairclimbing has been studied in 10 normal young men, 10 healthy middle-aged men, and 10 middle-aged men with chronic bronchitis. Subjects climbed a staircase with a total vertical ascent of 40.8 m. They were allowed to adopt the most comfortable pattern of ascent, the patients having to stop at intervales for rest pauses. Work rate was determined by timing the raising body weight over measured sections of the staircase. Perception of exertion estimated with a numerical scale, heart rate, and increase of blood lactate concentration were closely similar in all three groups at the top of the staircase. In the patients, average power output was directly dependent on lung function, as indicated by the forced expired volume in 1 second. Stairclimbing offers a simple way of studying a patient's spontaneous activity pattern in a 'real life' environment. Studies of the kind described here could usefully complement formal exercise testing in the laboratory.
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