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Cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) has been documented as a strong, independent predictor of non-communicable disease and mortality in both clinical and apparently healthy populations. This well-established relationship has impelled organizations, including the American Heart Association, to release scientific statements highlighting the importance of accurate quantification of CRF. Current knowledge of the relationship between CRF and mortality is predominantly based on estimated CRF obtained from varying indirect methods. Cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPX), the gold standard method of CRF measurement, provides a more accurate and reliable quantification of CRF compared to estimated methods. This review provides support for the diagnostic and prognostic use of CRF based on the current literature and makes a case for the use of CPX when available, as well as the need for standardization of normative values defining CRF levels to increase the efficacy of the risk assessment. Further, clinical applications of CPX-derived CRF are discussed, providing clinicians with recommendations on how to use and interpret this measure in practice to guide clinical decisions and improve patient outcomes.
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