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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2008 Jul;105(1):342-51. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00072.2008. Epub 2008 Mar 27.

Physical activity, cardiorespiratory fitness, and the metabolic syndrome in youth.

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Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit, Institute of Metabolic Science, Box 285, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Hills Rd., Cambridge CB2 0QQ, UK.


The metabolic syndrome is defined as the coexistence of multiple cardiovascular and diabetes risk factors, the prevalence of which has increased dramatically in adult populations in the last decades. More recently, the same cluster of metabolic risk factors has also been recognized in children and adolescents. Epidemiological evidence suggests that high levels of cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) and physical activity are associated with a favorable metabolic risk profile in adults. However, in youth the role of these factors is less clear. Therefore, the purpose of this mini-review is to examine the recent evidence between objectively measured habitual physical activity and CRF with clustered metabolic risk in youth. In general, it appears that both physical activity and CRF are separately and independently associated with metabolic risk factors in youth, possibly through different causal pathways. Further research is necessary to quantify how much physical activity is needed to prevent the metabolic syndrome and the diseases with which it is associated. Public health approaches that encourage increased physical activity and reduce sedentary behaviors may prove useful in reducing the population burden associated with metabolic risk.

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