Cardiovascular adaptations to exercise training in the elderly

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Maximal O2 uptake (V̇O(2max)) and left ventricular function decrease with age. Endurance exercise training of sufficient intensity, frequency, and duration increases V̇O(2max) in the elderly. The mechanisms underlying the increased V̇O(2max) in the elderly are enhanced O2 extraction of trained muscle during maximal exercise leading to a wider arteriovenous O2 difference, and higher cardiac output in the trained state. However, increased cardiac output during true maximal exercise has not been documented in elderly subjects. Endurance exercise training results in a lower heart rate and rate pressure product during submaximal exercise at a given intensity. However, no improvement in left ventricular function has been reported in the elderly after exercise training. Highly trained master athletes exhibit proportional increases in the left ventricular end-diastolic dimension and wall thickness suggestive of volume-overload hypertrophy compared with age-matched sedentary controls. The magnitude of left ventricular enlargement is similar to that in young athletes. The failure of exercise training to alter the age-related deterioration of left ventricular function in the elderly may reflect an insufficient training stimulus rather than the inability of the heart to adapt to training in elderly subjects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1840-1843
Number of pages4
JournalFederation proceedings
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 1 1987


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