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

Alexander R. Gibson, Robert Ojiambo, Kenn Konstabel, Daniel E. Lieberman, J.J. Reilly, John R. Speakman, Yannis Pitsiladis

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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.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2013


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