Aerobic fitness and somatic growth in adolescents: a cross sectional investigation in a high school context

J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2006 Sep;46(3):412-8.


Aim: A cross-sectional investigation to study the relations between aerobic fitness and somatic growth of Italian adolescents within a school context.

Methods: The Léger and Lambert 20-m shuttle run test scores were used to estimate the oxygen uptake (VO2max) of 290 high school adolescent students aged 14-18 years. Descriptive statistics of body mass, standing height, body mass index (BMI) and of predicted VO2max were calculated within age and sex group.

Results: Body mass and standing height were significantly larger in males than in females, and significantly increased with age (P < 0.002, analysis of variance). For standing height, a significant sex age interaction was found (P = 0.0004), with a larger age-related increment in males than in females. No significant differences in BMI were found. VO2max was significantly influenced by sex and age. The age-related decrement in VO2max was larger in females than in males (P = 0.001). Predicted VO2max was significantly related to BMI (males: r = -0.41; females: r = -0.336) and to body mass (females: r = -0.34; males: r = -0.352). A negative relationship between BMI and VO2max was found also in the overweight adolescents.

Conclusions: In both sexes, aerobic fitness declined with age. The decline was particularly evident in females. Low-cost methods to detect the nutritional level and aerobic performance of adolescents should be encouraged at school.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Distribution
  • Anaerobic Threshold / physiology*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Body Composition
  • Body Height
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Exercise Tolerance / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Motor Activity
  • Physical Fitness / physiology*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Running / physiology
  • Schools*
  • Sex Distribution