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Cardiorespiratory Fitness is Associated with Lower Abdominal Fat Independent of Body Mass Index

WONG, SUZY L.1; KATZMARZYK, PETER T.1,2; NICHAMAN, MILTON Z.4; CHURCH, TIMOTHY S.4; BLAIR, STEVEN N.4; ROSS, ROBERT1,3

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: February 2004 - Volume 36 - Issue 2 - p 286-291
doi: 10.1249/01.MSS.0000113665.40775.35
APPLIED SCIENCES: Physical Fitness and Performance

WONG, S. L., P. T. KATZMARZYK, M. Z. NICHAMAN, T. S. CHURCH, S. N. BLAIR, and R. ROSS. Cardiorespiratory Fitness is Associated with Lower Abdominal Fat Independent of Body Mass Index. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 36, No. 2, pp. 286–291, 2004.

Purpose To determine whether, for a given body mass index (BMI), men with high cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) have lower waist circumference (WC) and less total abdominal, abdominal subcutaneous, and visceral adipose tissue (AT) compared with men with low CRF.

Methods Subjects were categorized into HIGH CRF (N = 169) and LOW CRF (N = 124) groups based on age and CRF measured using a maximal treadmill test. Total abdominal, abdominal subcutaneous and visceral AT were measured by computerized tomography.

Results For a given BMI, men in the HIGH CRF group had significantly lower WC (P < 0.001), total abdominal (P < 0.001), visceral AT (P < 0.001), and abdominal subcutaneous AT (P < 0.001) compared with men in the LOW CRF group.

Conclusion These findings suggest that the ability of CRF to attenuate the health risks associated with BMI may be partially mediated through a reduction in abdominal AT. Accordingly, our observations reinforce the importance of regular physical activity in the prevention and reduction of obesity-related health risk independent of a corresponding reduction in body weight.

1School of Physical and Health Education,

2Department of Community Health and Epidemiology,

3Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, CANADA; and

4Centers for Integrated Health Research, The Cooper Institute, Dallas, TX

Address for correspondence: Robert Ross, Ph.D., School of Physical and Health Education, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada, K7 L 3N6; E-mail: rossr@post.queensu.ca.

Submitted for publication June 2003.

Accepted for publication September 2003.

©2004The American College of Sports Medicine