Physical Fitness

Physical fitness is very important for longevity and good health. The maximal oxygen uptake (fitness) is the most precise measure of overall cardiovascular fitness. Until recently there has been no robust material that describes the distribution of maximal oxygen uptake across a healthy, adult population. To investigate this, and further study how maximal oxygen uptake was associated with conventional risk factors, researchers at K. G. Jebsen Center of Exercise in Medicine at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology tested more than 4,600 healthy Norwegians between 20 and 90 years.

The researchers observed that the mean maximal oxygen uptake in women and men were 35 and 44 mL/kg/min, respectively. The material suggested a ~7% decline in maximal oxygen uptake with every 10 year raise in age in both genders. Women and men below the gender-specific mean were 4 to 8 times more likely to have a combination of more than three conventional cardiovascular risk factors (i.e. the metabolic syndrome) compared to the most fit quartile of subjects. The researchers also observed that maximal oxygen uptake may represent a continuum from health to disease, and that a general 5 mL/kg/min lower maximal oxygen consumption was associated with ~56% higher odds of having the metabolic syndrome.
 
In conclusion, the study indicates that cardiovascular fitness may be even more important for cardiac health than previously thought. The study-material is the historically largest and most robust of it's kind with directly measured maximal oxygen uptake and more than 4,600 subjects, and constitutes a reference-material to future studies. From the same data-material the researchers also developed a non-exercise model that allows anyone to easily estimate their maximal oxygen uptake. The model may prove to be an important tool for health authorities, doctors and others to estimate the cardiovascular health status, so to say, and possibly prevent future illness.
 

Mean maximal oxygen uptake across the age-groups

Age-group

Women

Men

20-29 years

43

mL·kg-1·min-1

54

mL·kg-1·min-1

30-39 years

40

mL·kg-1·min-1

49

mL·kg-1·min-1

40-49 years

38

mL·kg-1·min-1

47

mL·kg-1·min-1

50-59 years

34

mL·kg-1·min-1

42

mL·kg-1·min-1

60-69 years

31

mL·kg-1·min-1

39

mL·kg-1·min-1

70 years and more

27

mL·kg-1·min-1

34

mL·kg-1·min-1

Active middle-aged people can have the same maximal oxygen uptake as 20-29 year olds

 

Age-group

Inactive

Highly active

Men

20-29 years

47

mL·kg-1·min-1

60

mL·kg-1·min-1

50-59 years

38

mL·kg-1·min-1

47

mL·kg-1·min-1

Women

20-29 years

37

mL·kg-1·min-1

49

mL·kg-1·min-1

50-59 years

31

mL·kg-1·min-1

37

mL·kg-1·min-1

References: 

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21228724