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Effects of Age and Long-Term Endurance Training on V˙O2 Kinetics


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: February 2015 - Volume 47 - Issue 2 - p 289–298
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000000398
Basic Sciences

Purpose: This study examined the effects of age and training status on the pulmonary oxygen uptake (V˙O2p) kinetics of untrained and chronically trained young, middle-age, and older groups of men.

Methods: Breath-by-breath V˙O2p and near-infrared spectroscopy-derived muscle deoxygenation ([HHb]) were monitored continuously in young (20–39 yr) trained (YT, n = 8) and untrained (YuT, n = 8), middle-age (40–59 yr) trained (MT, n = 9) and untrained (MuT, n = 9), and older (60–85 yr) trained (OT, n = 9) and untrained (OuT, n = 8) men. On-transient V˙O2p and [HHb] responses to cycling exercise at 80% of the estimated lactate threshold (three repeats) were modeled as monoexponential. Data were scaled to a relative percentage of the response (0%–100%), the signals time aligned, and the individual [HHb]-to-V˙O2p ratio was calculated as the average [HHb]/V˙O2 during the 20- to 120-s period after exercise onset.

Results: The time constant for the adjustment of phase II pulmonary V˙O2 (τV˙O2p) was larger in OuT (42.0 ± 11.3 s) compared with that in YT (17.0 ± 7.5 s), MT (18.1 ± 5.3 s), OT (19.8 ± 5.4 s), YuT (25.7 ± 6.6 s), and MuT (24.4 ± 7.4 s) (P < 0.05). Similarly, the [HHb]/V˙O2 ratio was larger than 1.0 in OuT (1.30 ± 0.13, P < 0.05) and this value was larger than that observed in YT (1.01 ± 0.07), MT (1.04 ± 0.05), OT (1.04 ± 0.04), YuT (1.05 ± 0.03), and MuT (1.02 ± 0.09) (P < 0.05).

Conclusions: This study showed that the slower V˙O2 kinetics typically observed in older individuals can be prevented by long-term endurance training interventions. Although the role of O2 delivery relative to peripheral use cannot be elucidated from the current measures, the absence of age-related slowing of V˙O2 kinetics seems to be partly related to a preservation of the matching of O2 delivery to O2 utilization in chronically trained older individuals, as suggested by the reduction in the [HHb]/V˙O2 ratio.

1Canadian Centre for Activity and Aging, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, CANADA; 2School of Kinesiology, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, CANADA; 3Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, CANADA; and 4Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, CANADA

Address for correspondence: Donald H. Paterson, Ph.D., School of Kinesiology, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada N6A 3K7; E-mail:

Submitted for publication April 2014.

Accepted for publication May 2014.

© 2015 American College of Sports Medicine