Background: It is just as vital to have an exact overview of the physical fitness of young and growing people as it is for adults. The currently used exercise protocols have limitations in healthy small children, and in senior citizens. In particular with chronically ill patients, regardless of their age, there is a need for an exercise protocol that permits observations over the long term. With this need in mind, we have designed a new transferable standardised exercise protocol, constructing reference values based on improved assessments on a treadmill that permitted stepwise increases of speed and gradient every 90 seconds - the so called treadmill protocol from the German Society of Paediatric Cardiology.
Objectives: We investigated the exercise performance in a healthy Caucasian population ranging in age from 4 to 75 years.
Methods: We measured, using a prospective study design, the distance run, the endurance, and the consumption of oxygen in 548 females and 647 males undergoing an enhanced spiroergometric treadmill protocol in two centres.
Results and conclusions: Until puberty, boys and girls have the same indicators of exercise performance. Subsequent to puberty, uptake of oxygen and distance run differ, with males showing higher uptake of oxygen. There is still an age-dependent dynamic of peak uptake of oxygen related to body surface area. Using these new reference values, covering the whole range of age, it proves possible to compare performance during growth and aging of the individual. In this fashion, we have calculated centiles for all recorded variables. External calibration, validation and quality control ensures transferability of our data to other spiroergometry units.