Modelling the Influence of Age, Body Size and Sex on Maximum Oxygen Uptake in Older Humans



The purpose of this study was to describe the influence of body size and sex on the decline in maximum oxygen uptake (V̇O2,max) in older men and women. A stratified random sample of 152 men and 146 women, aged 55-86 years, was drawn from the study population. Influence of age on V̇O2,max, independent of differences in body mass (BM) or fat-free mass (FFM), was investigated using the following allometric model: V̇O2,max= BMb (or FFMb) exp(a + (c × age) + (d × sex)) [epsilon]. The model was linearised and parameters identified using standard multiple regression. The BM model explained 68.8% of the variance in V̇O2,max. The parameters (± s.e.e., standard error of the estimate) for lnBM (0.563 ± 0.070), age (-0.0154 ± 0.0012), sex (0.242 ± 0.024) and the intercept (-1.09 ± 0.32) were all significant (P < 0.001). The FFM model explained 69.3% of the variance in V̇O2,max, and the parameters (± s.e.e) lnFFM (0.772 ± 0.090), age (-0.0159 ± 0.0012) and the intercept (-1.57 ± 0.36) were significant (P < 0.001), while sex (0.077 +/− 0.038) was significant at P = 0.0497. Regardless of the model used, the age-associated decline was similar, with a relative decline of 15% per decade (0.984 exp(age)) in V̇O2,max in older humans being estimated. The study has demonstrated that, for a randomly drawn sample, the age-related loss in V̇O2,max is determined, in part, by the loss of fat-free body mass. When this factor is accounted for, the loss of V̇O2,max across age is similar in older men and women.