The adaptive response of maximal aerobic power (VO2max) to endurance exercise training was compared in 53 men and 57 women, aged 60–71 yr. The subjects were healthy and had been sedentary for at least 2 yr. Pretraining VO2max was measured during graded treadmill walking on two occasions. These values were reproducible (24.4 +/- 4.7 vs. 24.4 +/- 4.6 (SD) ml.min-l.kg-1; r = 0.96). Subjects trained primarily by walking and running for 9–12 mo, averaging 3.9 +/- 0.6 days/wk and 45 +/- 5 min/day at 80 +/- 5% of maximal heart rate (HRmax). Average improvement in VO2max (ml.min-1.kg-1) was 24 +/- 12% (range 0–58%). Relative improvement was not significantly different in men and women (26 +/- 12 vs. 23 +/- 12%, ml.min-1.kg-1; 21 +/- 10 vs 19 +/- 10%, l/min). When subjects were divided into three groups by age (60–62, 63–66, 67–71 yr), there were no significant differences among the groups in the relative increase in VO2max (21% vs. 19% vs. 18%, 1/min). Correlation analysis also yielded a nonsignificant relationship between improvement and age (r = -0.13). To examine the effect of initial fitness level on the adaptive response to exercise, pretraining VO2max was correlated with the absolute improvement in VO2max. This relationship was not significant in either men (r = 0.04) or women (r = -0.23). In conclusion, in healthy people aged 60–71 yr, VO2max adapts to endurance exercise training to the same relative extent as in young people, and this adaptation is independent of gender, age, and initial level of fitness.
- Copyright © 1991 the American Physiological Society