Open Access Research article

Association between cardiorespiratory fitness and the prevalence of metabolic syndrome among Korean adults: a cross sectional study

Sunghyun Hong12, Junga Lee12, Jihye Park12, Mikyung Lee12, Ji Young Kim12, Kyong-Chol Kim3, Sun Hyun Kim4, Jee Aee Im5, Sang Hui Chu6, Sang Hoon Suh7, Sang Hwan Kim8 and Justin Y Jeon12*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Sport and Leisure Studies, Sport Medicine Laboratory, Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea

2 Exercise Medicine Center for Diabetes and Cancer Patients, Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea

3 Anti-aging Center, Chaum Life Center, Cha Universty, Seoul, Korea

4 Department of Family Medicine, Kwandong University, College of Medicine, Gangneung-si, Republic of Korea

5 Sport and Medicine Research Center, INTOTO Inc, Seoul, Korea

6 Department of Clinical Nursing Science, Nursing Policy Research Institute, Yonsei University College of Nursing, Seoul, Korea

7 Department of Physical Education, Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea

8 Institute of Geriatric Medicine, Yonsei Woori Geriatric Hospital, Goyang, Gyeonggi-do, Korea

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BMC Public Health 2014, 14:481  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-481

Published: 21 May 2014



The purpose of the current study was to investigate the association between cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF), measured by a simple step test, and the prevalence of metabolic syndrome among Korean adults, in a cross sectional design.


A total of 1,007 Korean adults (488 men and 519 women) who underwent routine health checkups were recruited. CRF was measured by Tecumseh step test. The National Cholesterol Education Program’s Adult Treatment Panel III guideline was used to determine the prevalence of metabolic syndrome. A logistic regression was performed to reveal possible associations.


The results of the study showed that a lower level of CRF was significantly associated with a higher prevalence of metabolic syndrome in men, but not in women. On the other hand, higher BMI was associated with a higher prevalence of metabolic syndrome in both men and women. However, BMI was not associated with fasting glucose nor hemoglobinA1c in men. When the combined impact of BMI and CRF on the prevalence of metabolic syndrome was analyzed, a significantly increased prevalence of metabolic syndrome was found in both men (odds ratio [OR]: 18.8, 95% Confidence Interval [CI]: 5.0 - 70.5) and women (OR: 8.1, 95% CI: 2.8 - 23.9) who had high BMI and low cardiorespiratory fitness. On the other hand, the prevalence of metabolic syndrome was only increased 7.9 times (95% CI: 2.0 - 31.2) in men and 5.4 times (95% CI: 1.9 - 15.9) in women who had high level of CRF and high BMI.


In conclusion, the current study demonstrated the low CRF and obesity was a predictor for metabolic syndrome in Korean adults.

Cardiorespiratory fitness; Simple step test; Obesity; Metabolic syndrome; Korean adults