Purpose: The objective of this study is to examine how different approaches of the current exercise recommendations for adults associate with V˙O2peak in a large healthy population. We further examined how a lower duration than recommended, if performed at very vigorous intensity, was related to V˙O2peak.
Methods: A total of 4631 healthy adults age 19–89 yr (2263 men and 2368 women) were tested for V˙O2peak (mean = 44.3 and 35.9 mL·kg−1·min−1 for men and women, respectively). Information on exercise habits was collected through a questionnaire, including questions on frequency, duration, and relative intensity (Borg scale 6–20). A general linear model was applied to assess the associations between physical activity and V˙O2peak.
Results: V˙O2peak did not differ considerably between people who reported to exercise ≥150 min·wk−1 (average = 216 min·wk−1, V˙O2peak = 45.2 and 36.5 mL·kg−1·min−1 for men and women, respectively) with moderate intensity and people who reported 75–149 min·wk−1 (average = 112.5 min·wk−1, V˙O2peak = 47.5 and 37.3 mL·kg−1·min−1 for men and women) with vigorous intensity, but it was higher than that in people who reported inactivity (V˙O2peak = 40.1 and 32.3 mL·kg−1·min−1 for men and women) or low-intensity exercise (V˙O2peak = 41.2 and 40.1 mL·kg−1·min−1 for men and women). Reporting exercise at very vigorous intensity but with a duration of less than 75 min·wk−1 (average = 49 min·wk−1) was associated with a V˙O2peak that was similarly high (47.6 and 36.7 mL·kg−1·min−1 for men and women).
Conclusion: Our findings support current recommendations by showing that exercise of both “moderate intensity–long duration” and “vigorous intensity–short duration” was associated with similarly high V˙O2peak. Our results also suggest that exercising at very vigorous intensity may be beneficial for V˙O2peak even with considerably lower total exercise time than expressed in today’s recommendations.