This study compared the lung volumes and pulmonary functions of older endurance-trained athletes with those of healthy sedentary age-matched controls, young athletes, and young untrained men to determine whether training affects the age-associated changes in these variables. Despite large differences in maximal 02 consumption (VO2max), the older athletes and their sedentary peers had similar values for all pulmonary variables when expressed as absolute values. However, because the older athletes were shorter than the older sedentary men, their vital capacity, total lung capacity (TLC), and forced expiratory volume in 1 s were significantly larger than those of the older sedentary men when normalized for age and height; the average values for maximal voluntary ventilation and residual volume (RV) were also larger in the older athletes when normalized for age and height, but the differences were not significant. The young trained and untrained men did not differ in any of these measures. TLC was the only pulmonary variable that was the same in the young and older men; RV and the RV-to-TLC ratio were larger, whereas all other pulmonary function and volume measures were lower in the older men compared with the younger men. The older athletes were the only group whose lung volumes and pulmonary function measures were all, except for RV, substantially greater than expected based on their age and height. Thus prolonged strenuous endurance training in these older highly trained endurance athletes appears to have altered the decline in pulmonary function and volumes associated with aging.
- Copyright © 1988 the American Physiological Society