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The 20 m shuttle run is not a valid test of cardiorespiratory fitness in boys aged 11–14 years
  1. Jo Welsman,
  2. Neil Armstrong
  1. Children's Health and Exercise Research Centre, University of Exeter, Exeter, Devon, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jo Welsman; J.R.Welsman2{at}


Objectives The 20 m shuttle run test (20mSRT) is used to estimate cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) through the prediction of peak oxygen uptake (Embedded Image ), but its validity as a measure of CRF during childhood and adolescence is questionable. This study examined the validity of the 20mSRT to predict peak Embedded Image .

Methods Peak Embedded Image was measured during treadmill running. Log-linear regression was used to correct peak Embedded Image for body mass and sum of skinfolds plus age. Boys completed the 20mSRT under standardised conditions. Maximum speed (km/h) was used with age to predict peak Embedded Image using the equation developed by Léger et al. Validity was examined from linear regression methods and limits of agreement (LoA). Relationships between 20mSRT performance and allometrically adjusted peak Embedded Image , and predicted per cent fat were examined.

Results The sample comprised 76 boys aged 11–14 years. Predicted and measured mass-related peak Embedded Image (mL/kg/min) shared common variance of 32%. LoA revealed that measured peak Embedded Image ranged from 15% below to 25% above predicted peak Embedded Image . There were no significant relationships (p>0.05) between predicted peak Embedded Image and measured peak Embedded Image adjusted for mass, age and skinfold thicknesses. Adjusted for body mass and age, peak Embedded Image was not significantly related (p>0.05) to 20mSRT final speed but a weak, statistically significant (r=0.24, p<0.05) relationship was found with peak Embedded Image adjusted for mass and fatness. Predicted per cent fat was negatively correlated with 20mSRT speed (r=−0.61, p<0.001).

Conclusions The 20mSRT reflects fatness rather than CRF and has poor validity grounded in its flawed estimation and interpretation of peak Embedded Image in mL/kg/min.

  • children
  • exercise testing
  • fitness testing

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  • Contributors JW and NA jointly conceived and designed the research, led the research team and analysed the data. Both authors contributed to the drafting of the manuscript, both authors reviewed and approved the final version.

  • Funding This study was funded by Northcott Devon Medical Foundation and the Darlington Trust.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement statement Patient involvement in this study was not appropriate.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval Ethical approval for this study was received from the Exeter and District Health Authority Ethics Committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available on reasonable request. Contact:

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