Cardiovascular responses to treadmill and cycle ergometer exercise in children and adults

J Appl Physiol (1985). 1997 Sep;83(3):948-57. doi: 10.1152/jappl.1997.83.3.948.


This study was conducted to determine whether submaximal cardiovascular responses at a given rate of work are different in children and adults, and, if different, what mechanisms are involved and whether the differences are exercise-modality dependent. A total of 24 children, 7 to 9 yr old, and 24 adults, 18 to 26 yr old (12 males and 12 females in each group), participated in both submaximal and maximal exercise tests on both the treadmill and cycle ergometer. With the use of regression analysis, it was determined that cardiac output (Q) was significantly lower (P </= 0.05) at a given O2 consumption level (VO2, l/min) in boys vs. men and in girls vs. women on both the treadmill and cycle ergometer. The lower Q in the children was compensated for by a significantly higher (P </= 0.05) arterial-mixed venous O2 difference to achieve the same or similar VO2. Furthermore, heart rate and total peripheral resistance were higher and stroke volume was lower in the children vs. in the adult groups on both exercise modalities. Stroke volume at a given rate of work was closely related to left ventricular mass, with correlation coefficients ranging from r = 0.89-0.92 and r = 0.88-0.93 in the males and females, respectively. It was concluded that submaximal cardiovascular responses are different in children and adults and that these differences are related to smaller hearts and a smaller absolute amount of muscle doing a given rate of work in the children. The differences were not exercise-modality dependent.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Blood Gas Analysis
  • Body Height / physiology
  • Cardiac Output / physiology
  • Child
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise Test
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Hemodynamics / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology
  • Skinfold Thickness