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.
Age-group Women Men

Mean maximal oxygen uptake across the age-groups

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
Over 70 years 27 mL·kg-1·min-1 34 mL·kg-1·min-1


  Age-group Inactive Highly active

Aktive eldre kan godt ha kondisjonstall som inaktive yngre

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


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