Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Degree Level



Health, Human Performance and Recreation


Howie, Erin

Committee Member/Reader

Washington, Tyrone

Committee Member/Second Reader

Kim, Jae


Background: Fitness in the United States is declining as the prevalence of obesity rises. It is known generally that exercise and diet both play a part in becoming fit, therefore veering away from being obese and/or overweight. Although people are aware they need to eat healthy foods and participate in physical activity, the role that dietary behaviors have on exercise, particularly aerobic capacity, remains unresolved. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to analyze dietary behaviors and to examine associations with maximal aerobic capacity. We hypothesize that those who consume each food group will have a higher volume of oxygen uptake. Methodology: This cross-sectional study consisted of a convenience sample of students, faculty, and staff (at least 18 years and older) that visited the Exercise Science Research Center as part of the larger Exercise is Medicine project. Participants completed a treadmill maximal oxygen uptake test to determine their VO2 max and were administered a 24-hour diet recall. In addition, they completed an online survey on dietary behaviors. Preliminary analyses examined associations between dietary patterns from the online survey and aerobic capacity. Linear regressions were used to test the associations between dietary behaviors (independent variable) and aerobic capacity (dependent variable) and were adjusted for sex and age. Results: There were a total of 47 participants (n=29 women) to date who have participated, with a mean age of 29.2 (SD 12.5, range 19.1 to 66.0). The average aerobic capacity of women was 36.6 ml/kg/min (SD 8.0), ranging from 15.2 to 51.8. The average aerobic capacity of men was 43.4 ml/kg/min (SD 6.8), ranging from 33.1 to 55.1. Aerobic capacity did not differ between those who drank milk daily vs those who did not (β -2.7, p=.350), those who ate fruit daily (β -.06, p=.798), ate whole grains at least 3 times per week (-2.9, p=.257), ate red meat at least 3 days per week (β -0.4, p=.844), or those who never ate dessert (β -7.1, p=.098). Discussion: There were no significant differences in VO2 max scores between those who consumed milk, fruit, whole grains, red meat, and dessert versus those that did not. This is likely because aerobic capacity is altered from performing exercise, rather than eating certain food groups. Although dietary behaviors are not associated with aerobic capacity, the evaluation of macronutrients compared to aerobic capacity will be examined as a part of this study. In the future, studies should include an analysis of both energy consumption and exercise participation to improve health and fitness outcomes.


aerobic capacity, macronutrients, consumption, exercise, college students, dietary recall