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Aerobic capacity, activity levels and daily energy expenditure in male and female adolescents of the kenyan nandi sub-group

Gibson, Alexander R and Ojiambo, Robert and Konstabel, Kenn and Lieberman, Daniel E and Reilly, John J and Speakman, John R and Pitsiladis, Yannis P (2013) Aerobic capacity, activity levels and daily energy expenditure in male and female adolescents of the kenyan nandi sub-group. PLOS One, 8 (6).

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Abstract

The relative importance of genetic and socio-cultural influences contributing to the success of east Africans in endurance athletics remains unknown in part because the pre-training phenotype of this population remains incompletely assessed. Here cardiopulmonary fitness, physical activity levels, distance travelled to school and daily energy expenditure in 15 habitually active male (13.9±1.6 years) and 15 habitually active female (13.9±1.2) adolescents from a rural Nandi primary school are assessed. Aerobic capacity ([Formula: see text]) was evaluated during two maximal discontinuous incremental exercise tests; physical activity using accelerometry combined with a global positioning system; and energy expenditure using the doubly labelled water method. The [Formula: see text] of the male and female adolescents were 73.9±5.7 ml(.) kg(-1.) min(-1) and 61.5±6.3 ml(.) kg(-1.) min(-1), respectively. Total time spent in sedentary, light, moderate and vigorous physical activities per day was 406±63 min (50% of total monitored time), 244±56 min (30%), 75±18 min (9%) and 82±30 min (10%). Average total daily distance travelled to and from school was 7.5±3.0 km (0.8-13.4 km). Mean daily energy expenditure, activity-induced energy expenditure and physical activity level was 12.2±3.4 MJ(.) day(-1), 5.4±3.0 MJ(.) day(-1) and 2.2±0.6. 70.6% of the variation in [Formula: see text] was explained by sex (partial R(2) = 54.7%) and body mass index (partial R(2) = 15.9%). Energy expenditure and physical activity variables did not predict variation in [Formula: see text] once sex had been accounted for. The highly active and energy-demanding lifestyle of rural Kenyan adolescents may account for their exceptional aerobic fitness and collectively prime them for later training and athletic success.