A test to assess the mechanical power sustainable during everyday activities in older people

Edda Maria Capodaglio, Franco Saibene

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: to define with a simple test the power sustainable by older people during everyday occupations. Methods: nine healthy subjects (65-71 years) performed two series of 5-6 trials on bicycle and arm ergometers at constant power. Throughout the exercise they reported their evaluation of the effort, referred either to perceived whole body exertion or to the working muscles, using Borg's category-ratio, CR10, scale. The exercise was interrupted when CR7 was attained. From a linear regression of the individual data of the work done from the start of each trial to the transition from CR4 to CR5, corresponding to 'somewhat heavy' and 'heavy', and the corresponding duration it was possible to calculate the slope of the work/time relationship. This was considered as the value of power sustainable for leg or arm muscles. Results: on average the sustainable power for the work done on the bicycle ergometer represented 55% of the maximal mechanical power. During the control trial on the bicycle ergometer at a power corresponding to their sustainable power the subjects were able to exercise for 30 min without symptoms of fatigue or discomfort, with an average CR of 3. The average heart rate was 114 bpm and the blood lactate concentration at the end of the exercise was always lower than 4 mmol/l. Sustainable power calculated for the arm muscles was about one quarter that of the leg muscles, but all subjects reported the evaluation of the effort as more difficult. Conclusion: the determination of power sustainable for the leg muscles with this simple test appears reliable and accurate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-36
Number of pages6
JournalAge and Ageing
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2003


  • Arm work
  • Leg work
  • Older people
  • Sustainable power

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ageing


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