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J Sci Med Sport. 2007 Feb;10(1):36-44. Epub 2006 Jun 30.

The effects of ageing on respiratory muscle function and performance in older adults.

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Human Performance Laboratory, School of Leisure, Sport and Tourism, University of Technology, Sydney, Kuring-Gai Campus, P.O. Box 222, Lindfield NSW 2070, Australia.


The reduced physiological capacity evident with ageing may affect the ability to perform many tasks, potentially affecting quality of life. Previous research has clearly demonstrated the reduced capacity of the respiratory system with ageing and described the effect that habitual physical activity has upon this decline. This research aimed to examine the influence of age on respiratory muscle (RM) function and the relationship between RM function and physical performance within the Australian population. Seventy-two healthy older adults (50-79 years) were divided into males (n=36) and females (n=36) and examined for pulmonary function, RM strength, inspiratory muscle endurance (IME) and 1.6 km walking performance. There were no significant age by gender effects for any variables; however, ageing was significantly related to reduced RM function and walking capacity within each gender. Furthermore, regression analysis showed that the RM strength could be predicted from age. Partial correlations controlling for age indicated that expiratory muscle strength was significantly related to walking performance in males (p=0.04), whilst IME contributed significantly to walking performance in all participants. These within-gender effects and relationships indicate that RM strength is an important physiological variable to maintain in the older population, as it may be related to functional ability.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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