Exercise Science Testing

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(608) 265-3798

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The UW Health Sports Medicine Exercise Science Laboratory uses a number of physiological measures to evaluate fitness and monitor conditioning programs. The tests include:
Max VO2
Maximum volume of oxygen, or commonly referred to as Max VO2, is the gold standard measure of cardiovascular fitness. It is also referred to as maximal aerobic capacity, maximal aerobic power and VO2 Max. The test is used to measure the functional work capacity or aerobic fitness of any individual.
The test measures how well an individual takes in, transports, and utilizes oxygen via the cardiovascular system. The test typically utilizes an exercise that the individual is comfortable with. These include treadmills, bicycle ergometers, ski simulators and rowing machines.
The data provided to the athlete includes:
  • Rate of oxygen consumption
  • Heart rate response and power output during progressive exercise to fatigue
  • Maximal heart rate
  • Anaerobic threshold (AT)
  • Heart rate at anaerobic threshold
  • Percent of VO2 max at onset of AT
  • A five-zone training profile based on power output, heart rate and oxygen consumption.
This test is standard for individuals training for endurance events and uses the Medical Graphics CPX-D metabolic cart. This system uses breath-by-breath and mixing chamber analysis of expired gasses and volume to compute O2 consumption and CO2 production.
Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry
Historically, the primary use of dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) has been the evaluation of bone mineral density (BMD) as a screening to assess the risk for osteoporosis. However, DXA is also utilized to measure soft tissue. Whole body scans are used to measure bone, muscle and fat for the entire body and specific regions.

DXA demonstrates advantages over other technologies for estimating body composition. These advantages include reduced subject radiation exposure, decreased scan time and minimal participation from the individual being tested. This allows estimation of body fat in those individuals that may not be comfortable with underwater weighing such as young children, the elderly or those with special needs.
The broad band X-ray beam is passed through a filter to produce spectral peaks at two characteristic energy levels. Analysis is based on the differential attenuation of the two transmitted photons as they pass through bone and soft tissues. DXA has been considered to be the new reference standard for measurement of human body composition. It is the only technology that provides total fat and regional fat thus allowing for evaluation of fat distribution.