The dose-response association between V̇O2peak and self-reported physical activity in children

Alan M. Nevill, Michael Duncan, Gavin Sandercock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Previous research into the association between aerobic fitness and physical activity in children is equivocal. However, previous research has always assumed that such an association was linear. This study sought to characterize the dose–response association between physical activity and aerobic fitness and to assess whether this association is linear or curvilinear and varies by sex, age and weight status. Methods: Physical activity (assess using the Physical Activity Questionnaire), aerobic fitness (20 m shuttle-run), BMI, screen-time and socio-demographic data were collected at ages 12, 14 and 16 years in (n = 1422) volunteers from 9 English schools. Multilevel-regression modelling was used to analyse the longitudinal data. Results: The analysis identified a significant inverted “u-shaped” association between VO 2max and PAQ. This relationship remained having controlling for the influences of sex, age and weight status. Daily screen time >4 hours and deprivation were also associated with being less fit (P < 0.01). Conclusions: This longitudinal study suggests that the dose–response relationship between PA and aerobic fitness in children is curvilinear. The health benefits of PA are greater in less active children and that sedentary and less active children should be encouraged to engage in PA rather than more active children to increase existing levels of PA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)(In-press)
JournalJournal of Sports Sciences
Early online date13 May 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 May 2020


  • Weight Status
  • longitudinal
  • aerobic fitness
  • multi-Level Modelling

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