Older individuals arc more likely than younger adults to exhibit symptoms of exercise intolerance at high work rates. The risks of maximal exercise in older adults increase proportionally as the number of health difficulties increase. In this study, the effects of health status, age, and gender on older adults’ ability to attain V̇O2max are examined. Sedentary volunteers (60 women, 45 men), mean age 67 ± 5 years (range 57-78 years), participated in graded maximal exercise tests on a combined arm and leg cycle ergometer. Subjects were classified into three groups based on test termination reason: attainment of V̇O2max (MAX), symptom-limited (SX), or EKG-limited (EKG). Sixty percent of men and 40% of women were classified as MAX, while 48% of women and 27% of men were characterized as SX. Thirteen percent of men and 12% of women had EKG-limited exercise tests. Those in the EKG group reported significantly more diagnoses than subjects in the MAX group (2.7 vs. 1.4. p < .05). The number of medications reported and age of the subjects did not differ across test termination categories.
Andrea T. While and Stephen C. Johnson are with the Department of Exercise and Sport Science, University of Utah. Salt Lake City, UT 84112. C. Steven Fehlauer is with the College of Nursing. University of Utah. Robert E. Dustman and Rita Hanover are with the Neuropsychology Research Laboratory, VA Medical Center, Salt Lake City, UT 84148.