Changes in Aerobic Fitness in Swedish Children and Adolescents

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background:

Steadily declining physical activity, especially among children, and the possible adverse health outcomes such behavior could precede, is a general concern. We evaluated whether a presumed decrease in physical activity has been accompanied with a decrease in aerobic fitness of Swedish children.

Methods:

A maximum cycle ergometer test was performed in 935 children age 9 and 15 y, and the results were compared with previously reported data.

Results:

Estimated peak oxygen uptake (mL × min-1 × kg-1) in 9-y-old subjects was 37.3 in girls and 42.8 in boys; and in 15-y-olds, 40.4 in girls and 51.5 in boys. In the 9-y-olds, aerobic fitness remained lower in the current study compared to earlier data, but in the 15-y-olds the result did not differ from the 1952 data after adjustment for methodological differences.

Conclusion:

Our results suggest a change towards decreased aerobic fitness in 9-y-old, but not in 15-y-old, Swedish children during a 50-y time span.

The authors are with the Unit for Preventive Nutrition, Biosciences at NOVUM, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden. Wennlöf is also with the Division of Biomedicine, Dept of Clinical Medicine, Örebro University, Örebro, Sweden.