The Effect of Habitual Smoking on Measured and Predicted VO2max

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Nonexercise models were developed to predict maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max). While these models are accurate, they don’t consider smoking, which negatively impacts measured VO2max. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of smoking on both measured and predicted VO2max.


Indirect calorimetry was used to measure VO2max in 2,749 men and women. Physical activity using the NASA Physical Activity Status Scale (PASS), body mass index (BMI), and smoking (pack-y = packs·day * y of smoking) also were assessed. Pack-y groupings were Never (0 pack-y), Light (1–10), Moderate (11–20), and Heavy (>20). Multiple regression analysis was used to examine the effect of smoking on VO2max predicted by PASS, age, BMI, and gender.


Measured VO2max was significantly lower in the heavy smoking group compared with the other pack-y groups. The combined effects of PASS, age, BMI, and gender on measured VO2max were significant. With smoking in the model, the estimated effects on measured VO2max from Light, Moderate, and Heavy smoking were –0.83, –0.85, and –2.56 ml·kg−1·min−1, respectively (P < .05).


Given that 21% of American adults smoke and 12% of them are heavy smokers, it is recommended that smoking be considered when using nonexercise models to predict VO2max.

Suminski is with the Dept of Physiology, Kansas City University of Medicine and Bioscience, Kansas City, MO. Wier is with Wyle Laboratories/NASA JSC, Houston, TX. Poston and Randles are with the Dept of Basic Medical Science, University of Missouri at Kansas City School of Medical Science, Kansas City, MO. Arenare is with the Kelsey-Seybold-NASA JSC, Houston, TX. Jackson is with the Dept of Human Performance, University of Houston, Houston, TX.