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The accuracy of a 1-mile walking test to estimate aerobic power was assessed in a group of 28 sedentary elderly women (age = 73.5 ±0.8 yrs; body mass = 66.0 ±2.2 kg). Subjects were given the walk test and a graded maximal treadmill test for VO2peak at baseline and then were randomly assigned to either a walking group or a mild calisthenics control group for 12 weeks. Both the treadmill test and the walk test were re-administered at 5 weeks and at 12 weeks. The data suggest that regression approaches underestimate measured VO2peak by 17% in sedentary elderly women, but that accuracy is much improved after 5 weeks of brisk walking. Measurements at 12 weeks demonstrated even closer approximations of the laboratory measurement of VO2peak for the walking group. The 1-mile walk test underestimated VO2peak for the calisthenics group by 11% at the end of the 12 weeks. It was concluded that the 1-mile walk test underestimates measured VO2peak in elderly women unless they are accustomed to brisk walking.
The authors are with the Department of Health, Leisure, and Exercise Science, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC 28608.