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Clin Med Insights Pediatr. 2013 Sep 8;7:35-40. doi: 10.4137/CMPed.S12524. eCollection 2013.

Do obese children perceive submaximal and maximal exertion differently?

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Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) Research Institute I, Ottawa, ON, Canada. ; Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group, CHEO, Ottawa, ON, Canada. ; University of Ottawa, Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Human Kinetics, Ottawa, ON, Canada.


We examined how obese children perceive a maximal cardiorespiratory fitness test compared with a submaximal cardiorespiratory fitness test. Twenty-one obese children (body mass index ≥95th percentile, ages 10-17 years) completed maximal and submaximal cardiorespiratory fitness tests on 2 separate occasions. Oxygen consumption (VO2) and overall perceived exertion (Borg 15-category scale) were measured in both fitness tests. At comparable workloads, perceived exertion was rated significantly higher (P < 0.001) in the submaximal cardiorespiratory fitness test compared with the maximal cardiorespiratory fitness test. The submaximal cardiorespiratory fitness test was significantly longer than the maximal test (14:21 ± 04:04 seconds vs. 12:48 ± 03:27 seconds, P < 0.001). Our data indicate that at the same relative intensity, obese children report comparable or even higher perceived exertion during submaximal fitness testing than during maximal fitness testing. Perceived exertion in a sample of children and youth with obesity may be influenced by test duration and protocol design.


cardiorespiratory fitness; children; obesity; perceived exertion

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