Cardiorespiratory fitness and ideal cardiovascular health in European adolescents

Heart. 2015 May 15;101(10):766-73. doi: 10.1136/heartjnl-2014-306750. Epub 2014 Dec 8.


Objective: We studied in European adolescents (i) the association between cardiorespiratory fitness and ideal cardiovascular health as defined by the American Heart Association and (ii) whether there is a cardiorespiratory fitness threshold associated with a more favourable cardiovascular health profile.

Methods: Participants included 510 (n=259 girls) adolescents from 9 European countries. The 20 m shuttle run test was used to estimate cardiorespiratory fitness. Ideal cardiovascular health was defined as meeting ideal levels of the following components: four behaviours (smoking, body mass index, physical activity and diet) and three factors (total cholesterol, blood pressure and glucose).

Results: Higher levels of cardiorespiratory fitness were associated with a higher number of ideal cardiovascular health components in both boys and girls (both p for trend ≤0.001). Levels of cardiorespiratory fitness were significantly higher in adolescents meeting at least four ideal components (13% higher in boys, p<0.001; 6% higher in girls, p=0.008). Receiver operating characteristic curve analyses showed a significant discriminating accuracy of cardiorespiratory fitness in identifying the presence of at least four ideal cardiovascular health components (43.8 mL/kg/min in boys and 34.6 mL/kg/min in girls, both p<0.001).

Conclusions: The results suggest a hypothetical cardiorespiratory fitness level associated with a healthier cardiovascular profile in adolescents. The fitness standards could be used in schools as part of surveillance and/or screening systems to identify youth with poor health behaviours who might benefit from intervention programmes.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior
  • Age Factors
  • Area Under Curve
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Blood Pressure
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet / adverse effects
  • Europe
  • Exercise Test
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Physical Fitness*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • ROC Curve
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects


  • Blood Glucose
  • Cholesterol