The effects of a work hardening program on cardiovascular fitness and muscular strength

Jacalyn J. Robert, Richard W. Blide, Kevin Mc Whorter, Chris Coursey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Study Design. This study analyzed improvements in cardiovascular fitness and muscular strength after a 6-week work hardening program. Objectives. The objective of this study was to document fitness gains after a 6-week work hardening program. Summary of Background Data. Studies expounded on the success of a functional restoration approach in return-to-work rates, but few documented the physical fitness gains of a work hardening program. Methods. Thirty-one subjects from the Rehability Center in Lubbock, Texas, who were diagnosed with lower back dysfunction, completed the 6-week study. A submaximal cycle ergometer protocol was used to determine patients' cardiovascular fitness levels, and the Arcon Static Strength Testing Device was used to measure static strength. Pre- and post-tests were identical. Results. A paired Student's t test was used to analyze the significance of difference from pre- to post-testing. For cardiovascular fitness there was a 28% improvement, t(29) = 5.56, P < 0.001; there was a 76% improvement for the static arm lift, t{29) = 7.86, P<0.001; there was a 57% improvement in the static pull, t(29) = 9.53, P < 0.001; and an 89% improvement in the static push, t(29) = 9.08, P< 0.001. Conclusions. Analyzed data clearly show a marked improvement in cardiovascular and muscular fitness. There was not a difference in fitness levels between those who returned to work and those who did not, which suggests return-to-work rates are not entirely based on level of fitness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1187-1193
Number of pages7
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 1995


  • Back rehabilitation
  • Cardiovascular fitness
  • Low back pain
  • Muscular fitness
  • Return-to-work rates
  • Work hardening program


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