How does Canada stack up? A comparison of aerobic fitness across 50 countries

The 20-m shuttle run, or often referred to as the “beep test” is a common way to measure aerobic fitness. The idea is that you run back and forth (20 metres each way) in time with a pre-recorded audio track. The longer you go, the less time you have between stages (i.e., the faster you have to run 20 metres). Overall, you can think of it as a footrace, with the fittest kids performing for the longest time.

This study examined results from the test in over 1.1 million children and youth from 50 countries around the world. Are you would expect, there were vast differences in the results from country to country. The best performing countries tended to be from Africa and Central-Northern Europe. Countries from South America were the worst. Countries whose income inequality (i.e., the gap between the rich and the poor) was the highest also performed the worst.

Take home message

Canada ended up in the middle of the pack, with a ranking of 19th place. The U.S.A. fared worse with a ranking of 47 out of 50. Mexico ended up in last place. Overall, the fittest countries were

  • Tanzania
  • Iceland
  • Estonia
  • Norway
  • Japan


Authors: Justin J Lang, Mark S Tremblay, Luc Léger, Tim Olds, Grant R Tomkinson

Article title: International variability in 20 m shuttle run performance in children and youth: who are the fittest from a 50-country comparison? A systematic literature review with pooling of aggregate results

Link to article abstract