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PLoS One. 2013 May 15;8(5):e64319. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0064319. Print 2013.

Aerobic capacity reference data in 3816 healthy men and women 20-90 years.

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K.G. Jebsen Center of Exercise in Medicine at Department of Circulation and Medical Imaging, NTNU, Trondheim, Norway.

Erratum in

  • PLoS One. 2013;8(11). doi:10.1371/annotation/e3115a8e-ca9d-4d33-87ef-f355f07db28e.



To provide a large reference material on aerobic fitness and exercise physiology data in a healthy population of Norwegian men and women aged 20-90 years.


Maximal and sub maximal levels of VO2, heart rate, oxygen pulse, and rating of perceived exertion (Borg scale: 6-20) were measured in 1929 men and 1881 women during treadmill running.


The highest VO2max and maximal heart rate among men and women were observed in the youngest age group (20-29 years) and was 54.4±8.4 mL·kg(-1)·min(-1) and 43.0±7.7 mL·kg(-1)·min(-1) (sex differences, p<0.001) and 196±10 beats·min(-1) and 194±9 beats·min(-1) (sex differences, p<0.05), respectively, with a subsequent reduction of approximately 3.5 mL·kg(-1)·min(-1) and 6 beats·min(-1) per decade. The highest oxygen pulses were observed in the 3 youngest age groups (20-29 years, 30-39 years, 40-49 years) among men and women; 22.3 mL·beat(-1)±3.6 and 14.7 mL·beat(-1)±2.7 (sex differences, p<0.001), respectively, with no significant difference between these age groups. After the age of 50 we observed an 8% reduction per decade among both sexes. Borg scores appear to give a good estimate of the relative exercise intensity, although observing a slightly different relationship than reported in previous reference material from small populations.


This is the largest European reference material of objectively measured parameters of aerobic fitness and exercise-physiology in healthy men and women aged 20-90 years, forming the basis for an easily accessible, valid and understandable tool for improved training prescription in healthy men and women.

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