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J Gerontol. 1989 Sep;44(5):M147-57.

Cardiovascular and behavioral effects of aerobic exercise training in healthy older men and women.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Duke University Medical Center.


The cardiovascular and behavioral adaptations associated with a 4-month program of aerobic exercise training were examined in 101 older men and women (mean age = 67 years). Subjects were randomly assigned to an Aerobic Exercise group, a Yoga and Flexibility control group, or a Waiting List control group. Prior to and following the 4-month program, subjects underwent comprehensive physiological and psychological evaluations. Physiological measures included measurement of blood pressure, lipids, bone density, and cardiorespiratory fitness including direct measurements of peak oxygen consumption (VO2) and anaerobic threshold. Psychological measures included measures of mood, psychiatric symptoms, and neuropsychological functioning. This study demonstrated that 4 months of aerobic exercise training produced an overall 11.6% improvement in peak VO2 and a 13% increase in anaerobic threshold. In contrast, the Yoga and Waiting List control groups experienced no change in cardiorespiratory fitness. Other favorable physiological changes observed among aerobic exercise participants included lower cholesterol levels, diastolic blood pressure levels, and for subjects at risk for bone fracture, a trend toward an increase in bone mineral content. Although few significant psychological changes could be attributed to aerobic exercise training, participants in the two active treatment groups perceived themselves as improving on a number of psychological and behavioral dimensions.

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