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Modelling the influence of age, body size and sex on maximum oxygen uptake in older humans

  • Patrick J. Johnson (a1), Edward M. Winter (a1), Don H. Paterson (a1), John J. Koval (a1), Alan M. Nevill (a1) and David A. Cunningham (a1)...
    • Published online by Cambridge University Press: 25 January 2001


The purpose of this study was to describe the influence of body size and sex on the decline in maximum oxygen uptake (O2,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 O2,max, independent of differences in body mass (BM) or fat-free mass (FFM), was investigated using the following allometric model: O2,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 O2,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 O2,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 O2,max in older humans being estimated. The study has demonstrated that, for a randomly drawn sample, the age-related loss in O2,max is determined, in part, by the loss of fat-free body mass. When this factor is accounted for, the loss of O2,max across age is similar in older men and women.



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