The relationship between cardiorespiratory fitness, cardiovascular risk factors and atherosclerosis

Daniel J. Chu, Mahmoud Al Rifai, Salim S. Virani, Clinton A. Brawner, Khurram Nasir, Mouaz H. Al-Mallah

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) refers to the ability of the cardiopulmonary system to supply oxygen to skeletal muscles during exercise. Regular physical activity optimizes these systems by physiologic means that not only decrease cardiovascular risk factors but also independently affect mortality. Importantly, CRF is an integrative measure of the effects of its upstream risk factors including physical activity and genetics. In this review, we summarize the main methods that are frequently used to estimate CRF. We cite findings from the major studies on CRF, which demonstrate a beneficial effect on prevalent cardiovascular risk factor burden, subclinical atherosclerosis, and incident adverse outcomes including death, myocardial infarction, stroke, and cancer. We conclude by suggesting the incorporation of CRF into clinical decision-making given the prognostic information it provides.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-52
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Atherosclerosis
  • Cardiorespiratory fitness
  • Cardiovascular risk factors
  • METS
  • Stress testing


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