Submaximal exercise testing: clinical application and interpretation.
Compared with maximal exercise testing, submaximal exercise testing appears to have greater applicability to physical therapists in their role as clinical exercise specialists. This review contrasts maximal and submaximal exercise testing. Two major categories of submaximal tests (ie, predictive and performance tests) and their relative merits are described. Predictive tests are submaximal tests that are used to predict maximal aerobic capacity. Performance tests involve measuring the responses to standardized physical activities that are typically encountered in everyday life. To maximize the validity and reliability of data obtained from submaximal tests, physical therapists are cautioned to apply the tests selectively based on their indications; to adhere to methods, including the requisite number of practice sessions; and to use measurements such as heart rate, blood pressure, exertion, and pain to evaluate test performance and to safely monitor patients.