Effect of training on VO2max, thigh strength, and muscle morphology in septuagenarian women

M. Elaine Cress, D. Paul Thomas, Jill Johnson, Fred W. Kasch, Robert G. Cassens, Everett L. Smith, James C. Agre

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The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of a long-term (50 wk) combined aerobic-resistance training program on maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max, thigh strength, and vastus lateralis fiber morphology in healthy septuagenarian women (X age = 72 ± 6 yr). Subjects volunteered to be in either an exercise (Ex; N = 17) or control (Con; N = 10) group. Con subjects were 34% less active in winter than in summer; Ex subjects maintained their summer activity level on exercise days in winter. Initial, intermediate (20 wk), and final (50 wk) measurements were made for isokinetic knee extension/ flexion strength; VO2max and morphological measurements from a muscle biopsy were made at the initial and final times only. Both groups gained in leg strength (Ex = +6.5%; Con = +7.8%; P < 0.05) during the summer; in the winter the Ex group maintained leg strength and the Con group declined 12.2% (P ≥ 0.05). The fasttwitch muscle fiber area (Type IIb) increased 29% (P ≥ 0.001) in the Ex group and declined 26% (P = 0.014) in the Con group. VO2max increased only in the Ex group (16%; P < 0.001). We conclude that healthy septuagenarian women can increase aerobic capacity, leg strength, and Type IIb muscle fiber area with a long-duration, combined aerobic-resistance exercise program.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)752-758
Number of pages7
JournalMedicine and science in sports and exercise
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1991


  • Aerobic exercise
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Skeletal muscle


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