Muscular endurance of upper and lower extremities may provide a more practical measure of muscle function related to normal daily activity than measures of strength, especially with the elderly. Maximal isometric intermittent endurance of the finger flexors, thumb abductors, dorsiflexors, and plantar flexors were characterized by peak force, impulse, percent total impulse, and percent force decrement in men aged 20-74 yr. Volunteers(N = 153) were placed into appropriate 5-yr age groups: 20-24, 25-29,..., 70-74 yr. The intermittent endurance task consisted of 11 consecutive, 2-s maximal contractions, each separated by 3-s rest. Age group differences within each 2-s interval as well as differences in endurance were determined by ANOVA, and after adjusting for differences in body composition, by ANCOVA. The lower extremities had the greatest declines in absolute measures of force within each 2-s interval, and declines occurred earlier than previously reported. When values were expressed as percent change over the entire endurance task, there was generally no age group difference in force or impulse; however, there were significant muscle group differences. In conclusion, declines in absolute measures of force occurred at different ages depending on the muscle group; however, relative measures of muscular endurance were maintained for all age groups but varied by muscle group location.
Physical Fitness Research Laboratory, Department of Kinesiology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana-Champaign, IL
Submitted for publication November 1994.
Accepted for publication June 1995.
Address for correspondence: Michael G. Bemben, Ph.D., FACSM, University of Oklahoma, Department of Health and Sport Sciences, Room 120 Huston Huffman Center, Norman, OK 73019.