The matching of relative heart rate and VOp2s during graded exercise testing in healthy adults
Exercise prescription intensity is traditionally defined using a target heart rate (HR) as a surrogate measure of oxygen uptake (V02). The ACSM Guidelines recommends the use of a percentage of the maximal HRR because it is thought to match a similar percentage of maximal V02 (%V02max). However, several recent studies have challenged the notion that a given percentage of MHRR matches with the same percentage of V02max in older subjects. The purpose of this study was to assess the difference between percentages of MHRR and V02ma, and evaluate the influence of age on the agreement between these two variables across a range of exercise intensities. The sample included 530 subjects (232 men and 298 women, mean ages of 46.6 + 11.7 years and 43.3 + 11.3 years respectively) who completed a maximal treadmill test to volitional fatigue using the BSU/Bruce Ramp protocol. Heart rate and V02 data from minutes 3, 6, and 9 were converted into percentages of MHRR and V02mai,. Subjects were excluded from the analysis if they failed to achieve an RER,„a,,>1.0. Minutes 3, 6, and 9 represented 45.2 ± 11, 66.0 ± 15, and 83.1 ± 12% of VO2.x, respectively. A one-way ANOVA showed that statistically significant differences existed between the treatment means of relative intensity at minutes 3, 6, and 9 at a p-value of <0.05. The influence of age was assessed by correlation with the difference between percentages of MHRR and VO2max at minutes 3, 6, and 9. In addition, younger (<60 years of age) and older (>60 years of age) subjects were compared using an unpaired t-test. The association between age and the difference between percentages of HRR and VO2max were -0.24, -0.22, and - 0.26 at minutes 3, 6, and 9, respectively. The difference in the relative intensities of HRR and VO2max was greater for older subjects at minutes 3 and 6 (-7.0 vs. -2.2, -3.2 vs. -0.8%) but was smaller at minute 9 (-0.1 vs. -3.2%). A Scheffe post-hoc analysis was used to compare the differences between the treatment means of relative intensity. In conclusion, these results confirm the notion that percentages of MHRR. tend to underestimate percentages of VO2max in older subjects, however the differences observed within the present study were smaller than those reported previously. The small but statistically differences between the techniques would not appear to invalidate the use of percentages of MHRR as surrogate markers of percentages of VO2max in these subjects.