Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects


Kinesiology, Recreation, and Sport

Document Type



PURPOSE: Plateau in oxygen consumption (VO2) is the primary indicator for determining if an individual has reached their true maximal aerobic capacity (Howley et al., 1995). Although age and gender-specific secondary criteria (i.e. additional criteria that can be used to identify one’s attainment of maximal effort) have been developed for the healthy population, no secondary criteria have been established for pregnant women (Edvarsen et al., 2014). The primary purpose of this study was to analyze secondary endpoint criteria during VO2max testing among pregnant women during the 2nd trimester. A secondary purpose was to identify emotional and physical barriers pregnant women have that may prevent them from reaching maximal effort. METHODS: 25 pregnant women (age= 30.0±3.6yrs; gestation age= 22.1±1.4wks, pre-pregnancy BMI= 25.5±3.9kg/m2) participated. Each participant completed a Bruce protocol treadmill test where heart rate (HR), VO2, maximal respiratory exchange ratio (RERmax), and maximal rating of perceived exertion (RPE) were assessed. Immediate post-exercise lactate was also measured. RESULTS: The mean VO2max was 32.9±8.8 ml/kg/min. Mean RPE at maximal exertion was 17.6±1.8. HRmax was 167.3±13.1 bpm. Maximal RER was 1.16±0.15 and lactate was 6.8±2.4mM. Barriers were assessed via standardized open-ended questions asked immediately upon completion of the exercise test. Physical barriers were grouped into 4 categories: protocol-related, muscular fatigue, breathing/pulmonary stress, and other. Emotional barriers were also put into four categories: no concerns, protocol-related, performance-related, and pregnancy-related. CONCLUSIONS: Our data provide preliminary evidence that secondary criteria may need to be adjusted for pregnant women. In addition, physical and emotional barriers may be enhanced by pregnancy, and could be limiting the performance of pregnant women during maximal exercise testing.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Dr. Jill Maples


Exercise Science | Sports Medicine