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The reproducibility of the Bruce exercise test protocol for the determination of maximal aerobic capacity was evaluated in sedentary older women. Seventeen women between the ages of 51 and 68 yr performed five maximal graded exercise tests to volitional fatigue on a treadmill. [spacing dot above]VO2max(mL[middle dot]kg-1[middle dot]min-1) values averaged 27.5 /- 1.1; 28.3 /- 1.3; 28.4 /- 1.3; 29.6 /- 1.5; and 28.2 /- 1.4 for trials 1-5, respectively, and were not significantly different. Criteria for a plateau in [spacing dot above]VO2 at the point of exhaustion were met in 21 out of 85 tests (25%). The mean coefficient of variation in [spacing dot above]VO2max for the subjects for the 5 tests was 6.5% (range, 2.0-14%). Pearson's correlation coefficients for the study variables were significant, indicating good agreement between repeated tests (r2: between 0.70 to 0.89). Although there were no significant differences among the mean [spacing dot above]VO2max values in the 5 trials, 11 subjects had a 1.0 mL[middle dot]kg-1[middle dot]min-1 or greater increase in the[spacing dot above]VO2max from test 1 to test 2, and only 6 subjects had no change or a decrease in [spacing dot above]VO2max. The mean difference between T2 and T3 was lower (T1 vs T2: 0.8 mL[middle dot]kg-1[middle dot]min-1, T2 vs T3: 0.1 mL[middle dot]kg-1[middle dot]min-1) indicating slightly better agreement between the second and third test. Estimates of the between and within subject variance revealed a low within subject variance (4.2(mL[middle dot]kg-1[middle dot]min-1)2) compared to the between subject variance (22.1(mL[middle dot]kg-1[middle dot]min-1)2). This study demonstrates that a commonly used exercise testing protocol generates highly reproducible measurements of [spacing dot above]VO2max in women between 51 and 68 yr. The mean differences between tests and the high level of agreement between repeated tests suggests that a single measurement of[spacing dot above]VO2max can be performed to assess functional aerobic capacity in this population.

(C)1997The American College of Sports Medicine