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The independent associations of sedentary behaviour and physical activity on cardiorespiratory fitness
  1. Rute Santos1,2,
  2. Jorge Mota1,
  3. Anthony David Okely3,
  4. Michael Pratt4,
  5. Carla Moreira1,
  6. Manuel João Coelho-e-Silva5,
  7. Susana Vale1,
  8. Luis B Sardinha6
  1. 1Research Centre in Physical Activity, Health and Leisure, Faculty of Sport, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal
  2. 2Maia Institute of Higher Education, Maia, Portugal
  3. 3Interdisciplinary Educational Research Institute, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia
  4. 4National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
  5. 5Research Centre of Anthropology and Health, Faculty of Sport Sciences and Physical Education, University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal
  6. 6Exercise and Health Laboratory, Faculty of Human Kinetics, Technical University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal
  1. Correspondence to Dr Rute Santos, Research Centre in Physical Activity, Health and Leisure, University of Porto, Rua Dr Plácido Costa, 91, 4200-450 Porto, Portugal; rutemarinasantos{at}


Background During childhood and adolescence, both physical activity (PA) and sedentary behaviour seem to influence cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF); however, the combined association of PA and sedentary behaviour remains to be understood. We analysed the combined association of objectively measured sedentary behaviour and moderate-to-vigorous intensity PA (MVPA) on CRF in Portuguese children and adolescents.

Methods The sample comprised 2506 Portuguese healthy children and adolescents aged 10–18 years, from a cross-sectional school-based study (2008). PA and sedentary behaviour were assessed with accelerometry. Participants were classified as meeting current PA guidelines for youth versus not meeting, and as low versus high sedentary (according to the median value of sedentary time/day by age and gender), and then grouped as follows: Low active—high sedentary; low active—low sedentary; high active—high sedentary; high active—low sedentary. CRF was assessed with the FITNESSGRAM 20 m shuttle-run test. Binary logistic regression models were constructed to verify the relationship between high CRF and the combined influence of MVPA/sedentary behaviour, adjusting for age, gender, body mass index and accelerometer wear time.

Results Participants classified as high active/low sedentary (OR=1.81; 95% CI 1.21 to 2.69), as well as those classified as low active/low sedentary (OR=1.27; 95% CI 1.01 to 1.61) were more likely to be fit, compared with those from the low-active/high-sedentary group.

Conclusion MVPA and sedentary behaviour may act independently in their relation with CRF, and that MVPA levels may not overcome the deleterious influence of high-sedentary time in maximising CRF.

  • Aerobic fitness/Vo2 Max

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