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Rev Salud Publica (Bogota). 2012 Aug;14(4):570-83.

Should they play outside? Cardiorespiratory fitness and air pollution among schoolchildren in Bogotá.

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Department of Public Health, School of Medicine, Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia.



This study was aimed at comparing cardiorespiratory fitness (CF), measured as VO2 max, amongst school children exposed to varying levels of particulate matter (PM10), and air pollution in Bogotá, Colombia.


This was a cross-sectional study; it involved 1,045 children aged 7-12 attending four public schools served by different public transit routes and systems. Three schools were classified as being highly polluted (HP) and one slightly polluted (SP). The children and their parents were surveyed to collect data regarding their socio-demographic characteristics, physical activity habits and respiratory disease background. Objective measurements of weight and height were used to calculate the body mass index. VO2max was estimated using the 20-meter shuttle-run test, previously validated for Bogotá. Spirometry was performed on 435 children.


After adjustment for covariates, no difference was found in VO2max between children attending SP or HP schools (girls SP 45.8 ml/kg/min vs HP 44.6 ml/kg/min, p=0.11; boys SP 47.2 ml/kg/min cf HP 48.2 ml/kg/min, p=0.41).


VO2max levels did not differ amongst children attending schools exposed to high compared to low levels of air pollution and PM. A longitudinal study assessing children's VO2max levels in relation to exposure to highly-polluted areas is warranted.

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