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Objectives: To provide normative data on maximum oxygen uptake (V·O2MAX) and physical activity in children 6–7 years of age and analyse the association between these variables.
Methods: V·O2MAX was measured in 366 boys (mean (SD) 6.8 (0.4) years of age) and 332 girls (6.7 (0.4) years of age) from preschool classes in two suburban communities in Copenhagen, during a progressive treadmill exercise. Habitual physical activity was measured with accelerometers.
Results: Boys had higher V·O2MAX both in absolute values (1.19 (0.18) v 1.06 (0.16) litres/min (+11%), p<0.001) and relative to body weight (48.5 (6.0) v 44.8 (5.6) ml/kg/min (+8%); p<0.001) than girls. The difference in V·O2MAX between boys and girls decreased to +2% when expressed relative to lean body mass (LBM). Absolute V·O2MAX was related to LBM, body mass, and stature (all p<0.001). Boys were more physically active than girls (mean counts +9.4%, p<0.001), and even when boys and girls with the same V·O2MAX were compared, boys were more active. The difference in physical activity between the sexes was higher when sustained activity of higher intensity was compared.
Conclusions: V·O2MAX is higher in boys than girls (+11%), even when related to body mass (+8%) and LBM (+2%). Most of the difference in V·O2MAX relative to body mass was explained by the larger percentage body fat in girls. When boys and girls with the same V·O2MAX were compared, boys engaged in more minutes of exercise of at least moderate intensity.