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Open Access Research article

Construct validation of a non-exercise measure of cardiorespiratory fitness in older adults

Emily L Mailey1, Siobhan M White1, Thomas R Wójcicki1, Amanda N Szabo1, Arthur F Kramer2 and Edward McAuley1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Kinesiology & Community Health, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 906 S Goodwin Ave, Urbana, IL 61801, USA

2 Department of Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 603 E. Daniel St, Champaign, IL 61820, USA

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BMC Public Health 2010, 10:59  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-59

Published: 8 February 2010

Abstract

Background

Cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) is associated with a decreased risk of all-cause mortality but is rarely assessed in medical settings due to burdens of time, cost, risk, and resources. The purpose of this study was to test the construct validity of a regression equation developed by Jurca and colleagues (2005) to estimate CRF without exercise testing in community dwelling older adults.

Methods

Participants (n = 172) aged 60 to 80 years with no contraindications to submaximal or maximal exercise testing completed a maximal graded exercise test (GXT) and the submaximal Rockport 1-mile walk test on separate occasions. Data included in the regression equation (age, sex, body mass index, resting heart rate, and physical activity) were obtained via measurement or self-report. Participants also reported presence of cardiovascular conditions.

Results

The multiple R for the regression equation was .72, p < .001 and CRF estimated from this equation was significantly correlated with the MET value from the GXT (r = 0.66) and with CRF estimated from submaximal field testing (r = 0.67). All three CRF indices were significantly and inversely associated with reporting more cardiovascular conditions.

Conclusions

This research provides preliminary evidence that a non-exercise estimate of CRF is at least as valid as field test estimates of CRF and represents a low-risk, low-cost, and expedient method for estimating fitness in older adults.