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Fed Proc. 1987 Apr;46(5):1824-9.

Age and aerobic power: the rate of change in men and women.


The historic studies by Robinson and Astrand as well as more recent studies present a fairly uniform rate of decline in VO2max with age at 0.40-0.50 ml X kg-1 X min-1 X year-1 in men. In women the rate of decline appears to be less--approximately 0.20-0.35 ml X kg-1 X min-1 X year-1, at least in cross-sectional studies. Further, there is no clear distinction in the rate of change in VO2max when comparing active and inactive populations. Longitudinal studies varying from 2.5 to 21 to 56 years present a confounding picture. The rate of decline in VO2max varies from 0.04 to 1.43 ml X kg-1 X min-1 X year-1. There is some indication that active individuals decline at a slower rate than inactive persons but the results are not uniform. A possible explanation is that changes in VO2max over the entire age range may be curvilinear, with active individuals declining slowly as long as they maintain a regular exercise program, and sedentary individuals declining at a rapid rate during their 20's and 30's followed by a slower rate of decline of their VO2max as they age further.

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