Quantification of cardiorespiratory fitness in healthy nonobese and obese men and women

Chest. 2012 Apr;141(4):1031-1039. doi: 10.1378/chest.11-1147. Epub 2011 Sep 22.


Background: The quantification and interpretation of cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) in obesity is important for adequately assessing cardiovascular conditioning, underlying comorbidities, and properly evaluating disease risk. We retrospectively compared peak oxygen uptake (VO(2)peak) (ie, CRF) in absolute terms, and relative terms (% predicted) using three currently suggested prediction equations (Equations R, W, and G).

Methods: There were 19 nonobese and 66 obese participants. Subjects underwent hydrostatic weighing and incremental cycling to exhaustion. Subject characteristics were analyzed by independent t test, and % predicted VO(2)peak by a two-way analysis of variance (group and equation) with repeated measures on one factor (equation).

Results: VO(2)peak (L/min) was not different between nonobese and obese adults (2.35 ± 0.80 [SD] vs 2.39 ± 0.68 L/min). VO(2)peak was higher (P < .02) relative to body mass and lean body mass in the nonobese (34 ± 8 mL/min/kg vs 22 ± 5 mL/min/kg, 42 ± 9 mL/min/lean body mass vs 37 ± 6 mL/min/lean body mass). Cardiorespiratory fitness assessed as % predicted was not different in the nonobese and obese (91% ± 17% predicted vs 95% ± 15% predicted) using Equation R, while using Equation W and G, CRF was lower (P < .05) but within normal limits in the obese (94 ± 15 vs 87 ± 11; 101% ± 17% predicted vs 90% ± 12% predicted, respectively), depending somewhat on sex.

Conclusions: Traditional methods of reporting VO(2)peak do not allow adequate assessment and quantification of CRF in obese adults. Predicted VO(2)peak does allow a normalized evaluation of CRF in the obese, although care must be taken in selecting the most appropriate prediction equation, especially in women. In general, otherwise healthy obese are not grossly deconditioned as is commonly believed, although CRF may be slightly higher in nonobese subjects depending on the uniqueness of the prediction equation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology*
  • Physical Fitness
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Factors