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Am J Physiol. 1998 May;274(5 Pt 1):E785-90.

Training-induced alterations in fat and carbohydrate metabolism during exercise in elderly subjects.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.


Compared with young adults, fat oxidation is lower in elderly persons during endurance exercise performed at either the same absolute or relative intensity. We evaluated the effect of 16 wk of endurance training on fat and glucose metabolism during 60 min of moderate intensity exercise [50% of pretraining peak oxygen consumption (VO2peak)] in six elderly men and women (74 +/- 2 yr). Training caused a 21% increase in mean VO2peak. The average rate of fat oxidation during exercise was greater after (221 +/- 28 mumol/min) than before (166 +/- 17 mumol/min) training (P = 0.002), and the average rate of carbohydrate oxidation during exercise was lower after (3,180 +/- 461 mumol/min) than before (3,937 +/- 483 mumol/min) training (P = 0.003). Training did not cause a significant change in glycerol rate of appearance (Ra), free fatty acid (FFA) Ra, and FFA rate of disappearance during exercise. However, glucose Ra during exercise was lower after (1,027 +/- 95 mumol/min) than before (1,157 +/- 69 mumol/min) training (P = 0.01). These results demonstrate that a 16-wk period of endurance training increases fat oxidation without a significant change in lipolysis (glycerol Ra) or FFA availability (FFA Ra) during exercise in elderly subjects. Therefore, the training-induced increase in fat oxidation during exercise is likely related to alterations in skeletal muscle fatty acid metabolism.

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