The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

Developmental origins of physical fitness: the Helsinki Birth Cohort Study

Salonen, Minna K., Kajantie, Eero, Osmond, Clive, Forsén, Tom, Ylihärsilä, Hilkka, Paile-Hyvärinen, Maria, Barker, D.J.P. and Eriksson, Johan G. (2011) Developmental origins of physical fitness: the Helsinki Birth Cohort Study PLoS ONE, 6, (7), e22302. (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0022302). (PMID:21799817).

Record type: Article



Cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) is a major factor influencing health and disease outcomes including all-cause mortality and cardiovascular disease. Importantly CRF is also modifiable and could therefore have a major public health impact. Early life exposures play a major role in chronic disease development. Our aim was to explore the potential prenatal and childhood origins of CRF in later life.

Methods/Principal Findings

This sub-study of the HBCS (Helsinki Birth Cohort Study) includes 606 men and women who underwent a thorough clinical examination and participated in the UKK 2-km walk test, which has been validated against a maximal exercise stress test as a measure of CRF in population studies. Data on body size at birth and growth during infancy and childhood were obtained from hospital, child welfare and school health records. Body size at birth was not associated with adult CRF. A 1 cm increase in height at 2 and 7 years was associated with 0.21 ml/kg/min (95% CI 0.02 to 0.40) and 0.16 ml/kg/min (95% CI 0.03 to 0.28) higher VO2max, respectively. Adjustment for adult lean body mass strengthened these findings. Weight at 2 and 7 years and height at 11 years became positively associated with CRF after adult lean body mass adjustment. However, a 1 kg/m2 higher BMI at 11 years was associated with ?0.57 ml/kg/min (95% CI ?0.91 to ?0.24) lower adult VO2max, and remained so after adjustment for adult lean body mass.


We did not observe any significant associations between body size at birth and CRF in later life. However, childhood growth was associated with CRF in adulthood. These findings suggest, importantly from a public point of view, that early growth may play a role in predicting adult CRF.

Other fetchObject.action_uri=info_doi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0022302&representation=PDF - Accepted Manuscript
Available under License Other.
Download (147kB)

More information

Published date: July 2011
Organisations: Faculty of Medicine


Local EPrints ID: 206337
ISSN: 1932-6203
PURE UUID: de8dadbe-a544-49bb-b5dc-40b5fdda884a
ORCID for Clive Osmond: ORCID iD

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 19 Dec 2011 15:07
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 11:02

Export record



Author: Minna K. Salonen
Author: Eero Kajantie
Author: Clive Osmond ORCID iD
Author: Tom Forsén
Author: Hilkka Ylihärsilä
Author: Maria Paile-Hyvärinen
Author: D.J.P. Barker
Author: Johan G. Eriksson

University divisions

Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton:

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.