Measurements of physical fitness have been carried out on 161 University of Toronto physical and health education students, 78 men and 83 women; 144 of the students were non-smokers, and the remainder had a relatively light cigarette consumption, 10 men averaging 12.3 cigarettes/day and 7 women 8.7 cigarettes/day.
The more fit members of the group tended to volunteer for maximum testing, while less fit subjects elected sub-maximum test procedures. Allowing for this factor, the average V̇O2 (max) was 49.0 ml./kg. min in the male non-smokers, 37.7 ml./kg. min in the female non-smokers, 51.8 ml./kg. min for male smokers and 42.9 ml./kg. min for female smokers. Measurements of skinfold thicknesses (average readings for four groups 12.2, 13.3, 19.5 and 15.3 mm) with estimates of body fat (18.0, 28.5, 21.9 and 27.7%), muscle strength and lean mass support the view that although most students perceive themselves as fit, neither the men nor the women have an exceptional capacity for endurance work.
Despite a recent and fairly light cigarette habit, lung volumes are poorer in the smokers than in the non-smokers.
Even at the first laboratory visit, bicycle ergometer predictions of V̇O2 (max) over-estimate direct treadmill readings for this group, the discrepancy being 5-6% for the men and 8-9% for the women.
Results are compared with published information on physical education students from other nations. There seem national differences between endurance-oriented Scandinavian students and heavy, contact-sport oriented North Americans.