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The Princeton Longevity Center Medical News

What You Didn't Know Your Stress Test Could Tell You

You may already know that Exercise Stress Tests are used for detecting heart disease, evaluating medical therapy and monitoring cardiac rehab – but did you know that your stress test can also help you fine-tune a workout to meet your individual fitness goals? Knowing your Aerobic Capacity and Heart Rate Maximum before starting a fitness program can significantly improve your fitness outcomes and the associated health benefits of exercise.
A Maximal Stress Test, like Balke Treadmill or Bruce Protocol, can tell you your Aerobic Capacity or VO2 max. A measure of aerobic capacity indicates your endurance or stamina and the ability for exercise during extended periods of time. VO2 max refers to the maximum amount of oxygen that an athlete can utilize during intense exercise. Because these values can estimate how you would do in a long term event, such as a marathon, or even your routine jog around the block - it can be a vital part of creating a customized workout to maximize your fitness goals. Aerobic Capacity can also tell you about where you should be aerobically as a comparison to the VO2 Max of others your age.

How Your
Heart Rate Maximum
Can Affect Your Workout:

If you are 40 years old, your predicted maximum heart rate is 180 BPM. But say a stress test reveals your actual maximum heart rate is 205 BPM. An ideal workout aims for a cardiovascular exercise range at 85% of your maximum heart rate. In this case your predicted BPM for exercise would be at 153; but using your stress test results, your actual BPM maximum should be at 174. Using the general age-predicted maximum heart rate would have underestimated your predicted workout zone by about 21 BPM!

Another important element to be gained from your stress test is your true Heart Rate Maximum. A heart rate maximum is how many times your heart can beat per minute (BPM) at the highest level of exertion. This is a critical number used to establish where your exercise “zones” are during cardiovascular exercise. Most exercise equipment today monitors your heart rate by using a very general formula to calculate an age-predicted maximum heart rate (220-age). This formula may be effective for some, but can vary significantly by individual. Aiming for the wrong heart rate range during exercise can not only make your work out less productive – but it can also be dangerous! So find out what your true Heart Rate Maximum is to maximize your fitness goals and before starting a new exercise program.


So the next time your doctor orders an Exercise Stress Test or when you come in for your Comprehensive Exam at Princeton Longevity Center – remember what your stress test can tell you! Your results can combine your Aerobic Capacity/VO2 Max and your Heart Rate Maximum along with other variables to find a more accurate, efficient, and safe exercise program for you. Additionally, VO2 Max and Heart Rate Maximum are measurable functions and can be re-evaluated periodically to ensure your fitness program is working to improve your overall health and helping to reach your fitness goals.

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