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Response to criticisms of the 20 m shuttle run test: deflections, distortions and distractions
  1. Grant R Tomkinson1,2,
  2. Justin J Lang3,
  3. Luc A Léger4,
  4. Timothy S Olds2,5,
  5. Francisco B Ortega6,7,
  6. Jonatan R Ruiz6,7,
  7. Mark S Tremblay8
  1. 1 Department of Education, Health and Behavior Studies, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, North Dakota, USA
  2. 2 Alliance for Research in Exercise, Nutrition and Activity (ARENA), School of Health Sciences & Sansom Institute for Health Research, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
  3. 3 Centre for Surveillance and Applied Research, Public Health Agency of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  4. 4 Département de kinésiologie, Universite de Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  5. 5 Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Melbourne, Australia
  6. 6 PROmoting FITness and Health through physical activity research group (PROFITH), Department of Physical Education and Sports, Faculty of Sport Sciences, Universidad de Granada, Granada, Spain
  7. 7 Department of Biosciences and Nutrition, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden
  8. 8 Healthy Active Living and Obesity (HALO) Research Group, CHEO Research Institute, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Grant R Tomkinson, Department of Education, Health and Behavior Studies, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks 58202, USA; grant.tomkinson{at}

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In their editorial, Armstrong and Welsman1 suggest that the 20 m shuttle run test (20mSRT) (mis)represents and (mis)interprets youth cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF), and potentially (mis)informs health promotion and clinical practice. Their main arguments are: (a) the 20mSRT only provides an estimate of CRF (ie, peak Embedded Image O2) and (b) estimates are ratio-scaled (ie, expressed relative to body mass). In this response we provide several reasons, rooted in evidence, which refute their interpretation of our work.

CRF measures the body’s capacity to deliver and utilise oxygen for energy transfer to support muscle activity during physical activity.2 The 20mSRT provides a simple, single measure that assesses the integrated responses of the physiological systems’ ability to perform progressive aerobic exercise. Unfortunately, it does not provide specific information on the function or contribution of specific systems that can be obtained from a gas analysed peak Embedded Image O2 test. The 20mSRT is a good measure of functional exercise capacity that authentically imitates youth physical activities (eg, running, agility) in a natural setting. At the individual level, the 20mSRT is a true indicator of peak Embedded Image O2 (absolute or …

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