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A comparison of estimated maximal oxygen uptake in 9 and 10 year old schoolchildren in Tanzania and Norway


Objective: To compare estimated maximal oxygen uptake (V˙O2max) in Tanzanian and Norwegian children, by using the same bicycle protocol in both samples.

Methods: Maximal oxygen uptake was estimated from an indirect maximal watt cycle ergometer test in 156 rural boys and girls in Tanzania. Similarly aged urban Norwegian boys and girls (n = 379) who underwent the same test were used for comparison. The Tanzanian children also participated in a 20 metre shuttle run test and a test of bicycle skill. The Tanzanian children were tested at altitude (∼1800 metres), while the Norwegian children were tested at sea level.

Results: In the cycle ergometer test, estimated relative V˙O2max was similar in Tanzanian and Norwegian boys, while Tanzanian girls had 8% lower estimated V˙O2max compared with Norwegian girls (p<0.001). Only one third of the Tanzanian children were able to ride a conventional bicycle. Excluding subjects not able to ride a bicycle, there was no difference in estimated V˙O2max between Norwegian and Tanzanian children. The Tanzanian boys and girls reached significantly higher estimated V˙O2max in the shuttle run test compared with the cycle ergometer test (p<0.001).

Conclusions: Tanzanian and Norwegian children attained similar relative V˙O2max in the cycle ergometer test. However, the comparison was hampered by differences in altitude and the poor cycle ergometer skills in the Tanzanian children, both of which probably underestimated their V˙O2max.

  • CV, coefficient of variation
  • HR, heart rate
  • MWCE, maximal watt cycle ergometer
  • SRT, shuttle run test
  • Maximal oxygen uptake
  • estimated
  • children
  • Tanzania
  • Norway

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