Armstrong, N., Welsman, J., & Winsley, R. (1995). Is peak VO2 a maximal index of children's aerobic fitness? International Journal of Sports Medicine, 17, 356-359.

Only a minority of children demonstrate a VO2 plateau during exercise to voluntary exhaustion. This study was designed to investigate whether a VO2 plateau is required before peak VO2 can be considered a maximal index of children's aerobic fitness.

Children (M = 17, F = 18; average 9.9 years) performed three incremental treadmill tests to exhaustion one week apart. Each successive test used an increased gradient.

Some children (M = 6, F = 7) demonstrated a VO2 plateau (<=2 ml/hg/min) on the first test but no significant differences were detected between those who did and did not demonstrate a plateau. Mean peak VO2 values did not change significantly on the second or third tests over that displayed in the first. Anaerobic contributions did increase in the second and third tests.

These findings indicate that peak VO2 in test one was maximal despite no demonstration of a plateau. In young children, the requirement for a plateau should be disregarded.

Implication. In young children, aerobic work capacity should be deemed to be the peak level of oxygen consumption in a test whether or not a plateau is demonstrated.

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