Decline in V̇O(2 max) with aging in master athletes and sedentary men

M. A. Rogers, J. M. Hagberg, W. H. Martin, A. A. Ehsani, J. O. Holloszy

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278 Scopus citations


Fifteen well-trained master endurance athletes [62.0 ± 2.3 (SE) yr] and 14 sedentary control subjects (61.4 ± 1.4 yr) were reevaluated after an average follow-up period of ~ 8 yr to obtain information regarding the effects of physical activity on the age-related decline in maximal O2 uptake capacity (V̇O(2 max)). The master athletes had been training for 10.2 ± 2.9 yr before initial testing and continued to train during the follow-up period. The sedentary subjects' V̇O(2 max) declined by an average of 3.3 ml · kg-1 · min-1 (33.9 ± 1.7 vs. 30.6 ± 1.6, P < 0.001) over the course of the study, a decline of 12% per decade. In these subjects maximal heart rate declined 8 beats/min (171 vs. 163) and maximal O2 pulse decreased from 0.20 to 0.18 ml · kg-1 · beat (P < 0.05). The master athletes' V̇O(2 max) decreased by an average of 2.2 ml · kg-1 · min-1 (54.0 ± 1.7 vs. 51.8 ± 1.8, P < 0.05), a 5.5% decline per decade. The master athletes' maximal heart rate was unchanged (171 ± 3 beats/min) and their maximal O2 pulse decreased from 0.32 to 0.30 ml · kg-1 · beat (P < 0.05). These findings provide evidence that the age-related decrease in V̇O(2 max) of master athletes who continue to engage in regular vigorous endurance exercise training is approximately one-half the rate of decline seen in age-matched sedentary subjects. Furthermore our results suggest that endurance exercise training may reduce the rate of decline in maximal heart rate that typically occurs as an individual ages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2195-2199
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1990


  • endurance exercise training
  • maximal heart rate
  • oxygen pulse
  • physical inactivity


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