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Br J Sports Med. 2006 Apr;40(4):287-92.

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

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Defence Institute, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Oslo, Norway.



To compare estimated maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) in Tanzanian and Norwegian children, by using the same bicycle protocol in both samples.


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 (approximately 1800 metres), while the Norwegian children were tested at sea level.


In the cycle ergometer test, estimated relative VO2max was similar in Tanzanian and Norwegian boys, while Tanzanian girls had 8% lower estimated VO2max 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 VO2max between Norwegian and Tanzanian children. The Tanzanian boys and girls reached significantly higher estimated VO2max in the shuttle run test compared with the cycle ergometer test (p<0.001).


Tanzanian and Norwegian children attained similar relative VO2max 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 VO2max.

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