The maximum oxygen intake. An international reference standard of cardiorespiratory fitness

Bull World Health Organ. 1968;38(5):757-64.


Lack of cardiorespiratory fitness may well contribute to the increasing prevalence of degenerative cardiovascular disease throughout the world. As a first step towards co-ordinated and internationally comparable investigation of this problem, methods of measuring the reference standard of cardiorespiratory fitness-the maximum oxygen intake, (Vo(2))(max)-were compared by an international working party that met in Toronto in the summer of 1967.Repeated testing of 24 subjects showed that the (Vo(2))(max) was greatest on the treadmill, 3.4% smaller in a stepping test, and 6.6% smaller during use of a bicycle ergometer. There were also parallel differences in cardiac stroke volume. Uphill treadmill running was recommended for the laboratory measurement of (Vo(2))(max), and stepping or bicycle exercise for field studies. A discontinuous series of maximum tests caused some improvement in the fitness of subjects, and a "continuous" test (with small increases in load at 2-min intervals) was preferred.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Heart Function Tests / standards*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption*
  • Physical Exertion
  • Physical Fitness / standards*
  • World Health Organization