Introduction and objectives: Several studies have demonstrated that physical fitness in childhood and adolescence is related to cardiovascular risk in adulthood. Current data on the physical fitness of Spanish adolescents are not available. Therefore, the aims of this study were: a) to assess the physical fitness of Spanish adolescents and establish reference values for use in health and educational settings as indicators of cardiovascular health, and b) to determine the percentage of Spanish adolescents below the minimum level of aerobic fitness needed to guarantee future cardiovascular health.
Subjects and method: The modified EUROFIT battery of tests was used to assess physical fitness in a representative sample of Spanish adolescents (n=2859; 1357 boys and 1502 girls) taking part in the AVENA (Alimentación y Valoración del Estado Nutricional de los Adolescentes) study.
Results: Standard parameters for the physical condition of Spanish adolescents are reported in this study. The 5th percentile for maximum aerobic capacity (Course Navette test) ranged from 2.0-3.3 palier in boys and from 1.4-1.9 palier in girls. The findings indicate that, on the basis of aerobic fitness, approximately 20% of Spanish adolescents have an increased risk of future cardiovascular disease. This subgroup also performed poorly in all other tests of physical fitness used.
Conclusions: The results reported in this study enable the level of physical fitness in adolescents to be interpreted as an indicator of future cardiovascular health. They also indicate that the physical fitness of Spanish adolescents must be improved to help protect against cardiovascular disease in adulthood.