Normal cardiopulmonary responses during incremental exercise in 20- to 70-yr-old men

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1994 May;26(5):538-46.


Healthy men (N = 1424, age 20-70 yr) underwent a progressive incremental treadmill exercise test to volitional maximum. Cardiopulmonary variables were measured breath-by-breath. The aerobic power (VO2max) declined at an average yearly rate of 0.33, HRmax declined 0.685 beats.min-1.yr-1, and max O2 pulse declined at an annual rate of 0.115*100. Gas exchange threshold (GET) expressed as percentage of VO2max was 58% and 69% in the youngest (20-30 yr) and oldest (61-70 yr) decades, respectively. The average decline in VE, Vt, f, and PETCO2 over the entire age range was 29%, 10%, 21%, and 7%, respectively. There were increases in VE/VO2, and VE/VECO2, from age 20-70 yr of 13% and 14%, respectively, but no changes across 5 decades in PETO2. Physical (height and weight) as well as life-style characteristics (leisure time activity, place of residency, smoking), were found to be potent predictors in most of the cardiopulmonary values at maximal exercise and therefore should be incorporated in the predictive equations for such variables. Normal response patterns of most cardiopulmonary variables throughout the range of exercise intensities were shown to be age-affected and thus should be standardized for age decades.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Body Height
  • Body Weight
  • Carbon Dioxide / analysis
  • Electrocardiography
  • Exercise Test
  • Exercise Tolerance / physiology
  • Heart / physiology*
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Lung / physiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology
  • Physical Exertion / physiology*
  • Pulmonary Gas Exchange / physiology
  • Reference Values
  • Respiration / physiology
  • Tidal Volume / physiology


  • Carbon Dioxide