Background - Aerobic power declines with age. The degree to which this decline is reversible remains unclear. In a 30-year longitudinal follow-up study, the cardiovascular adaptations to exercise training in 5 middle-aged men previously trained in 1966 were evaluated to assess the degree to which the age-associated decline in aerobic power is attributable to deconditioning and to gain insight into the specific mechanisms involved. Methods and Results - The cardiovascular response to acute submaximal and maximal exercise were assessed before and after a 6-month endurance training program. On average, VO2max increased 14% (2.9 versus 3.3 L/min), achieving the level observed at the baseline evaluations 30 years before. Likewise, VO2max increased 16% when indexed to total body mass (31 versus 36 mL/kg per minute) or fat-free mass (44 versus 51 mL/kg fat-free mass per minute). Maximal heart rate declined (181 versus 171 beats/min) and maximal stroke volume increased (121 versus 129 mL) after training, with no change in maximal cardiac output (21.4 versus 21.7 L/min); submaximal heart rates also declined to a similar degree. Maximal AVDO2 increased by 10% (13.8 versus 15.2 vol%) and accounted for the entire improvement of aerobic power associated with training. Conclusions - One hundred percent of the age-related decline in aerobic power among these 5 middle-aged men occurring over 30 years was reversed by a 6-month endurance training program. However, no subject achieved the same maximal VO2 attained after training 30 years earlier, despite a similar relative training load. The improved aerobic power after training was primarily the result of peripheral adaptation, with no effective improvement in maximal oxygen delivery.
- Cardiac output
- Heart rate
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
- Physiology (medical)