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Effects of Low-Intensity Walk Training With Restricted Leg Blood Flow on Muscle Strength and Aerobic Capacity in Older Adults

Abe, Takashi PhD1; Sakamaki, Mikako PhD1; Fujita, Satoshi PhD1; Ozaki, Hayao1; Sugaya, Masato1; Sato, Yoshiaki MD, PhD1,2; Nakajima, Toshiaki MD, PhD2

Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy: January-March 2010 - Volume 33 - Issue 1 - p 34–40
doi: 10.1097/JPT.0b013e3181d07a73
Research Reports

Purpose Slow-walk training combined with restricted leg muscular blood flow (KAATSU) produces muscle hypertrophy and strength gains in young men, which may lead to increased aerobic capacity and functional fitness. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of walk training combined with KAATSU on muscle size, strength, and functional ability, as well as aerobic capacity, in older participants.

Methods A total of 19 active men and women, aged 60 to 78 years, were randomized into either a KAATSU-walk training group (n = 11, K-walk) or a nonexercising control group (n = 8, control). The K-walk group performed 20-minute treadmill walking (67 m/min), 5 days/wk for 6 weeks.

Results Isometric (11%) and isokinetic (7%-16%) knee extension and flexion torques, muscle-bone cross-sectional area (5.8% and 5.1% for thigh and lower leg, respectively), as well as ultrasound-estimated skeletal muscle mass (6.0% and 10.7% for total and thigh, respectively) increased (P < .05) in the K-walk group but not in the control group. Functional ability also increased significantly only in the K-walk group (P < .05); however, there was no change in the estimated peak oxygen uptake(absolute and relative to body mass) for either group.

Conclusion The results of the current study indicate that 6 weeks of KAATSU-walk training did not simultaneously improve cardiovascular and muscular fitness of older participants. However, it significantly increased muscular size and strength as well as functional ability of active older men and women.

1Department of Human and Engineered Environmental Studies, Graduate School of Frontier Sciences, The University of Tokyo, Chiba, Japan.

2Department of Ischemic Circulatory Physiology, Graduate School of Medicine, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan.

Address correspondence to: Takashi Abe, PhD, Department of Human and Engineered Environmental Studies, Graduate School of Frontier Sciences, The University of Tokyo, 5-1-5 Kashiwanoha, Kashiwa, Chiba, Japan (abe@k.u-tokyo.ac.jp).

Copyright © 2010 the Section on Geriatrics of the American Physical Therapy Association
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