Low-intensity, alternate-day exercise improves muscle performance without apparent adverse affect in postpolio patients

James C. Agre, Arthur A. Rodriquez, Todd M. Franke, Eileen R. Swiggum, Robert L. Harmon, Joel T. Curt

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42 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of a low-intensity, alternate-day, 12-wk quadriceps muscle-strengthening exercise program on muscle strength and muscle and motor unit integrity in 12 postpolio patients. Patients performed six to ten repetitions of a 5-s duration knee extension exercise with ankle weights. After completing six repetitions, patients rated the perceived exertion (RPE) in the exercised muscle. The patient continued repetitions until RPE was ≥17 or ten repetitions were performed. The weight was increased the next exercise day whenever the RPE was <17 after ten repetitions. Before and after the training program, median macroamplitude as well as jitter and blocking were determined electromyographically (EMG), serum creatine kinase (CK) was measured, and quadriceps muscle strength was assessed. The ankle weight lifted after 2 wk of training and at the end of the program were also recorded. Although the ankle weight lifted at the end of the program significantly (P < 0.05) increased from a mean ± SD of 7.1 ± 2.7 to 11.2 ± 4.7 kg, the dynametrically determined muscle strength measures did not significantly (P > 0.05) increase. The EMG and the serum CK variables also did not significantly (P > 0.05) change as a result of the exercise program. We conclude that performance was improved, as demonstrated by an increase in the amount of weight the patients lifted in the exercise program. No evidence was found to show that this program adversely affected the motor units or the muscle as the EMG and CK did not change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)50-58
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1996


  • Electromyography
  • Exercise
  • Postpolio Syndrome
  • Strength


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