DURHAM, N.H. New research by University of New Hampshire exercise scientists confirms that a low-tech, easy-to-administer test is an effective tool for gauging exercise intensity, but that it does not correspond as neatly as previously assumed to other more objective tests. In a study published recently in the Journal of Sports Sciences, UNH associate professor of kinesiology Timothy Quinn and his former graduate student Benjamin Coons put the so-called "Talk Test" to the test.
Quinn and Coons set out to learn just how good this test, gaining in popularity over the past decade, is, and how it compared to two other laboratory-tested measures of intensity, the lactate threshold and the ventilatory threshold.
The researchers administered the Talk Test to healthy adults, having them read the Pledge of Allegiance while exercising at different intensities and rating how comfortable they were speaking. They found that when participants reported a positive Talk Test that they could still speak comfortably they were exercising at the lower end of established exercise intensity guidelines as measured by both heart rate and maximal oxygen consumption, or VO2 max. When participants became uncertain that they could still speak comfortably, they were exercising at the upper end of intensity guidelines.
This finding confirmed the effectiveness of the Talk Test. "If you can still talk comfortably, you're exercising in a zone that's appropriate for improving fitness in individuals beginning an exercise program," Quinn says. "The Talk Test is a good tool, and it's easy to use."
More surprising, however, was how the Talk Test compared to the lactate threshold, the point at which muscles can no longer metabolize and remove lactic acid as it builds during exercise, and the ventilatory threshold, which is characterized by sudden heavy breathing. While previous research involving the Talk Test has used the ventilatory threshold as the comparator,
|Contact: Beth Potier|
University of New Hampshire