Do assessments of cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness influence subsequent reported physical activity? A randomized controlled trial

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BACKGROUND: Regular physical activity and exercise provide many health benefits. These health benefits are mediated in large part through cardiorespiratory fitness and muscular strength. As most individuals have not had an assessment of their personal cardiorespiratory fitness or muscular strength we investigated if measurements of cardiorespiratory fitness and muscular strength would influence an individual's subsequent self-reported exercise and physical activity.

METHODS: Volunteer subjects at a State Fair were randomized in 1:1 parallel fashion to control and intervention groups. The baseline Exercise Vital Sign (EVS) and type of physical activity were obtained from all subjects. The intervention group received estimated maximum oxygen uptake (VO 2max) using a step test and muscular strength using a hand grip dynamometer along with age-specific norms for both measurements. All subjects were provided exercise recommendations. Follow up surveys were conducted at 3, 6 and 12 months regarding their EVS and physical activity.

RESULTS: One thousand three hundred fifteen individuals (656 intervention, 659 control) were randomized with 1 year follow up data obtained from 823 subjects (62.5%). Baseline mean EVS was 213 min/week. No change in EVS was found in either group at follow-up (p = 0.99). Subjects who were less active at baseline (EVS < 150) did show an increase in EVS (86 to 146) at 6 months (p < 0.05). At 3 months the intervention group increased resistance training (29.1 to 42.8%) compared to controls (26.3 to 31.4%) (p < 0.05). Lifestyle physical activity increased in the intervention group at 3 months (27.7 to 29.1%) and 6 months (25%) whereas it declined in the control group at 3 months (24.4 to 20.1%) and 6 months (18.7%) (p < 0.05).

CONCLUSION: Providing VO 2max estimates and grip strength did not produce an increase in overall physical activity. The EVS and exercise recommendations did however produce an increase in physical activity in less active individuals. In a very active population the VO 2max estimate and measured grip strength did increase lifestyle activity and resistance training. Wider adoption of these measures could be effective in promoting physical activity and resistance training.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: NCT03518931 Registered 05/08/2018 -retrospectively registered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number69
JournalBMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
None. The study adheres to CONSORT guidelines and a completed CONSORT checklist has been submitted separately.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).


  • Cardiorespiratory fitness
  • Exercise
  • Exercise promotion
  • Grip strength
  • Physical activity


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