Table 1

Cardiorespiratory fitness (maximal oxygen consumption, VO2max, mL/kg/min) cut-points to classify individuals as unfit

An individual will be classified as unfit if his/her VO2max* is below these cut-points, and as fit otherwise
Age group
Treadmill testBike test
  • *It is important to note that heavier individuals could bepenalised when cardiorespiratory fitness is expressed as VO2max, mL/kg/min. In these cases, alternatively, total treadmill time in an incremental maximal exercise test could be used as indicator of fitness level, for which the reference values of the Cooper Institute can be used (Physical Fitness Assessments and Norms for Adults and Law Enforcement; Cooper Institute; 2013).

  • †The cut-points for individuals aged 8 to 19 years come from a meta-analysis recently published by Ruiz et al.4 In studies in which the 20 m shuttle run test was used to assess cardiorespiratory fitness in children or adolescents, an alternative definition of unfit can be done using thefirst quintile of the international reference value derived from the recent meta-analysis published by Tomkinson et al.5

  • The cut-points for adults correspond to the sex-specific and age-specific first quintile from the data (2014–2015) from 7783 maximal (respiratory exchange ratio ≥1.0) treadmill tests from men and women (aged 20–79 years) without cardiovascular disease from the Fitness Registry and the Importance of Exercise: A National Data Base (FRIEND).9 Equivalent reference values derived from maximal bike tests, also from FRIEND, are provided (n=4494).10 To our knowledge, these are the most accurate, largest and more updated fitness reference values covering all the adult age groups to date.