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Training for Old Age: Production Functions for the Aerobic Exercise Inputs


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: December 2007 - Volume 39 - Issue 12 - p 2226-2233
doi: 10.1249/mss.0b013e318154015d
APPLIED SCIENCES: Physical Fitness and Performance

Purpose: This paper attempts to develop production functions (PF) between aerobic exercise inputs and long-run health outputs. Future studies could use such PF for estimating the benefits and costs (broadly defined) of different exercise programs to help develop optimal (utility maximizing) ones.

Methods: To develop the PF, the paper reviewed the biomedical literature for the major dose-response relations between health, physical fitness, and exercise. Where relevant, the paper converted the dose-response relationships from relative risks to absolute probabilities and standardized terminology and units of measures.

Results: The paper develops a clear set of biological PF that illustrate, quantitatively, how increases in peak cardiorespiratory (CR) fitness as measured by a short stress test reduce the probability of all-cause mortality; how increasing intensities of short (approximately 30 min, three to five times a week) exercise sessions increase peak CR fitness or retard its age-related decline; and how consistent exercise reduces the risk of myocardial infarctions (MI).

Conclusions: The exercise-long-run health PF developed in this paper should provide a useful framework for other studies to estimate the broadly defined costs and benefits of different exercise programs and to help develop optimal ones.

1Departments of Economics and Finance, and 2Kinesiology, Leisure, and Sport Sciences, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN

Address for correspondence: Michael D. Everett, Ph.D., Department of Economics and Finance, East Tennessee State University, PO Box 70686, Johnson City, TN 37614; E-mail:

Submitted for publication February 2007.

Accepted for publication July 2007.

©2007The American College of Sports Medicine