Background: The aim of this research was to study the effects of overweight and leisure-time activities on maximal aerobic capacity (VO2max) in urban and rural Omani adolescents. Methods: A total of 529 (245 males, 284 females) adolescents, aged 15-16 years were randomly selected from segregated urban and rural schools. Maximal aerobic capacity was estimated using the multistage 20-meter shuttle-run test. Results: The body mass index (BMI) of urban boys and girls was significantly higher than that of rural boys and girls. Urban boys and girls spent significantly less weekly hours on sports activities and significantly more weekly hours on TV/computer games than their rural counterpart. Urban boys and girls achieved significantly less VO2max than rural boys and girls (44.2 and 33.0 vs. 48.3 and 38.6 mL/kg/min, respectively). Maximal aerobic capacity was negatively correlated with BMI in urban boys. Conclusion: Overweight and inactivity had significant negative effects on cardiorespiratory fitness in urban boys and girls as compared to their rural counterparts. Weight gain in adolescence requires early intervention.
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