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The Ability of the PACER to Elicit Peak Exercise Response in the Youth


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: June 2013 - Volume 45 - Issue 6 - p 1139–1143
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e318281e4a8
Applied Sciences

Purpose A graded exercise test (GXT) is the standard laboratory method of determining peak aerobic fitness (V˙O2peak). The FITNESSGRAM’s Progressive Aerobic Cardiovascular Endurance Run (PACER) test is commonly used to estimate the peak oxygen consumption in the youth in the field.

The objective of this study is to compare the peak physiological variables and RPEpeak during a treadmill GXT and the PACER test in 10- to 15-yr-old youths.

Methods Participants (20 boys and 25 girls, 12.7 ± 1.7 yr) completed the PACER and treadmill GXT in a randomized order, separated by at least 24 h. HRpeak was measured via telemetry, V˙O2peak and RERpeak were measured using a portable metabolic system, and participants reported RPEpeak at the end of each test.

Results No significant differences were found between the GXT and PACER HRpeak (197 vs 197 beats·min−1), RERpeak (1.13 vs 1.12), V˙O2peak (45.0 vs 45.9 mL·kg−1·min−1), and RPEpeak (8.4 vs 8.3). The SE of the measurement between the GXT V˙O2peak and PACER V˙O2peak was 1.4 mL·kg−1·min−1.

Conclusions It appears that the PACER elicits similar peak exercise responses compared with a treadmill GXT. The PACER can also be administered for fitness and functional capacity assessments in healthy and clinical populations.

Department of Kinesiology, Recreation, and Sport Studies, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN

Address for correspondence: Dawn P. Coe, Ph.D., Department of Kinesiology, Recreation, and Sport Studies, The University of Tennessee, 338 HPER, 1914 Andy Holt Avenue, Knoxville, TN 37996-2700; E-mail:

Submitted for publication September 2012.

Accepted for publication December 2012.

©2013The American College of Sports Medicine