Cardiorespiratory fitness is associated with lower abdominal fat independent of body mass index

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2004 Feb;36(2):286-91. doi: 10.1249/01.MSS.0000113665.40775.35.


Purpose: To determine whether, for a given body mass index (BMI), men with high cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) have lower waist circumference (WC) and less total abdominal, abdominal subcutaneous, and visceral adipose tissue (AT) compared with men with low CRF.

Methods: Subjects were categorized into HIGH CRF (N = 169) and LOW CRF (N = 124) groups based on age and CRF measured using a maximal treadmill test. Total abdominal, abdominal subcutaneous and visceral AT were measured by computerized tomography.

Results: For a given BMI, men in the HIGH CRF group had significantly lower WC (P < 0.001), total abdominal (P < 0.001), visceral AT (P < 0.001), and abdominal subcutaneous AT (P < 0.001) compared with men in the LOW CRF group.

Conclusion: These findings suggest that the ability of CRF to attenuate the health risks associated with BMI may be partially mediated through a reduction in abdominal AT. Accordingly, our observations reinforce the importance of regular physical activity in the prevention and reduction of obesity-related health risk independent of a corresponding reduction in body weight.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Abdomen / anatomy & histology*
  • Abdomen / physiology*
  • Adipose Tissue / anatomy & histology*
  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism*
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Body Composition*
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology
  • Physical Fitness / physiology*