Muscular fitness and cardiometabolic variables in children and adolescents: a systematic review


The importance of muscular fitness (MF) in the performance of activities of daily living is unequivocal. Additionally, emerging evidence has shown MF can reduce cardiometabolic risk in children and adolescents.


The purpose of this study was to examine and summarize the evidence regarding the relationship between MF phenotypes (i.e., maximum muscular strength/power, muscular endurance, and maximum muscular strength/power/endurance) and cardiometabolic variables (obesity, blood pressure, lipids, glucose homeostasis, inflammatory markers, and clustered cardiometabolic variables) in children and adolescents.


This systematic review was conducted in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) statement and was registered with PROSPERO, number CRD42020179273.

Data Sources

A systematic review was performed on five databases (PubMed, EMBASE, SciELO, Scopus, and Web of Knowledge) from database inception to May 2020, with complementary searches in reference lists.

Eligibility Criteria for Selecting Studies

Eligibility criteria included (1) a study sample of youth aged ≤ 19 years, (2) an assessment of MF with individual or clustered cardiometabolic variables derived from adjusted models (regardless of test/measurement adopted or direction of reported association), and (3) a report of the association between both, using observational studies. Only original articles published in peer-reviewed journals in English, Portuguese, and Spanish languages were considered. The quality of the included studies was assessed by using the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute checklist. The percentage of results reporting a statistically significant inverse association between each MF phenotype and cardiometabolic variables was calculated.


Of the 23,686 articles initially identified, 96 were included (77 cross-sectional and 19 longitudinal), with data from children and adolescents from 35 countries. The score for the quality of evidence ranged from 0.33 to 0.92 (1.00 maximum). MF assessed by maximum muscular strength/power was inversely associated with lower obesity (64/113 total results (56.6%)) and reduction in clustered cardiometabolic risk (28/48 total results (58.3%)). When assessed by muscular endurance, an inverse association with obesity (30/44 total results (68.1%)) and cardiometabolic risk (5/8 total results (62.5%)) was identified. Most of the results for the relationship between MF phenotypes with blood pressure, lipids, glucose homeostasis, and inflammatory markers indicated a paucity of evidence for these interrelationships (percentage of results below 50.0%).


MF assessed by maximum muscular strength/power or muscular endurance is potentially associated with lower obesity and lower risk related to clustered cardiometabolic variables in children and adolescents. There is limited support for an inverse association between MF with blood pressure, lipids, glucose homeostasis biomarkers, and inflammatory markers in children and adolescents.

Lead Researchers

Link to Publication


  1. Mark S. Tremblay

    Senior Scientist, CHEO Research Institute

    View Profile Email