Assessing aerobic capacity: A comparison of five step-test methods
Druskins, Leanne Marie
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The primary focus of this study was to identify differences in the aerobic capacity values obtained from five submaximal step tests. In addition, a submaximal treadmill test and a submaximal cycle ergometer test were included in the analysis. A total of seven submaximal tests were examined. Eighteen subjects, nine males and nine females, performed all seven aerobic tests: Bruce treadmill test, YMCA cycle ergometer test, Astrand-Rhyming step test, Cotten step test, Sharkey's step test, Siconolfi's step test and Queen's College step test. During testing oxygen consumption and heart rates were monitored and recorded for each participant. These values, along with variables such as age, weight and gender, were used to predict maximal oxygen consumption values. Three of the protocols provided estimated values of oxygen uptake during the testing for use in their respective prediction equations. Both the estimated uptake and the actual uptake were entered into these equations. Comparisons of the two resulting values were made for the three protocols. The results indicated that significant differences existed between the means of the seven submaximal protocols. The Cotten step test mean was different from the remaining six tests. Three step tests had the highest predictions: Cotten test, 56.1 ml/kg min; Astrand-Rhyming test, 48.0 mllkg min and Queen's College test, 46.9 mllkg min. The Bruce treadmill test produced the fourth highest mean, 44.8 mllkg min. No differences were detected between the Bruce protocol, the YMCA ergometer test, and Sharkey and Siconolfi's step methods. Significant differences were detected between the capacity means obtained from the estimated oxygen uptake values and the actual oxygen uptake values. The Bruce protocol V02 max obtained from the estimated values was thirty-four percent higher than the mean from the actual uptake values. The opposite difference was obtained for the YMCA protocol; the estimated values produced a mean V02 max twenty-one percent lower than the actual values. There was a three percent difference in the V02 max means for Siconolfi's step test method. The aerobic capacity value obtained from the Astrand-Rhyming step test method was reasonable for the population tested in this study. Also, the procedure for estimating maximal oxygen uptake included subjects' ages, weights, gender and heart rates. None of the other tests included all these variables which appear to affect the performance values. Based on this information the Astrand-Rhyming step method was recommended, but made without knowledge of the subjects' actual aerobic capacities.