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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2005 Jan;98(1):334-42. Epub 2004 Sep 17.

Exercise training increases oxidative capacity and attenuates exercise-induced ultrastructural damage in skeletal muscle of aged horses.

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  • 1Sport and Exercise Science Program, The Ohio State University, 129C Larkins Hall, 337 West Seventeenth Ave., Columbus, OH 43210-1284, USA.


Exercise training improves functional capacity in aged individuals. Whether such training reduces the severity of exercise-induced muscle damage is unknown. The purpose of the present study was to determine the effect of 10 wk of treadmill exercise training on skeletal muscle oxidative capacity and exercise-induced ultrastructural damage in six aged female Quarter horses (>23 yr of age). The magnitude of ultrastructural muscle damage induced by an incremental exercise test before and after training was determined by electron microscopic examination of samples of triceps, semimembranosus, and masseter (control) muscles. Maximal aerobic capacity increased 22% after 10 wk of exercise training. The percentage of type IIa myosin heavy chain increased in semimembranosus muscle, whereas the percentage of type IIx myosin heavy chain decreased in triceps muscle. After training, triceps muscle showed significant increases in activities of both citrate synthase and 3-hydroxyacyl-CoA-dehydrogenase. Attenuation of exercise-induced ultrastructural muscle damage occurred in the semimembranosus muscle at both the same absolute and the same relative workloads after the 10-wk conditioning period. We conclude that aged horses adapt readily to intense aerobic exercise training with improvements in endurance, whole body aerobic capacity, and muscle oxidative capacity, and heightened resistance to exercise-induced ultrastructural muscle cell damage. However, adaptations may be muscle-group specific.

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