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

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Abstract

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.

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