Cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) is routinely investigated in diverse populations, including in older adults of varying physical activity levels. Commonly performed maximal exercise testing protocols might be contraindicated and/or inadequate for older individuals who have physical or cognitive impairment. Moreover, early termination of an attempted maximal exercise test could result in underestimation of CRF in this population. The goal of the current study was to compare CRF estimates using the Ekblom-Bak (EB) submaximal exercise test – previously validated in a cohort of Scandinavian adults – versus a subsequent maximal exercise test in a diverse, Midwestern United States cohort. Fifteen generally healthy individuals were included in this study who were either “Young” (25–34 years old) or “Older” (55–75 years old) as well as either sedentary or highly active. Participants completed the EB submaximal exercise test, followed immediately by a maximal exercise test. We found that all 15 individuals were able to successfully perform the EB submaximal testing method. Across the wide range of volumes of maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max; 12–52 ml/kg/min), the EB submaximal estimates of VO2max correlated highly with the maximal test based values (Pearson’s r = 0.98), but with a small bias (6 ml/kg/min, 95% limits of agreement −1.06 and −11.29). Our results suggest that the EB submaximal testing method may be useful in identifying wide differences in CRF among a diverse cohort of older adults in the United States, but larger studies will be needed to determine the degree of its accuracy and precision in identifying smaller differences.

Original languageEnglish
Article number550285
JournalFrontiers in Physiology
StatePublished - Nov 6 2020


  • cardiorespiratory fitness
  • cycle ergometer
  • feasibility
  • older adults
  • submaximal test


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