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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2017 Mar 1;122(3):430-434. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00569.2016. Epub 2016 Dec 29.

Case Studies in Physiology: Maximal oxygen consumption and performance in a centenarian cyclist.

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Unit of Integrative Biology of Adaptations to Exercise, EA 7362, Université d'Evry Val d'Essonne, Genopole, Evry, France;
Surgical Intensive Care Unit-Trauma Center, Department of Anaesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, Université Paris-Est Créteil and Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris, Hôpital Henri Mondor, Créteil, France.
Unit of Integrative Biology of Adaptations to Exercise, EA 7362, Université d'Evry Val d'Essonne, Genopole, Evry, France.
Université Sorbonne Paris Cité, Paris, France; and.
Centre de Médecine du Sport, Caisse Centrale d'Activités Sociales, Paris, France.


The purpose of this study was to examine the physiological characteristics of an elite centenarian cyclist who, at 101 yr old, established the 1-h cycling record for individuals ≥100 yr old (24.25 km) and to determine the physiological factors associated with his performance improvement 2 yr later at 103 yr old (26.92 km; +11%). Before each record, he performed an incremental test on a cycling ergometer. For 2 yr, he trained 5,000 km/yr with a polarized training that involved cycling 80% of mileage at "light" rate of perceived exertion (RPE) ≤12 and 20% at "hard" RPE ≥15 at a cadence between 50 and 70 rpm. His body weight and lean body mass did not change, while his maximal oxygen consumption (V̇o2max) increased (31-35 ml·kg-1·min-1; +13%). Peak power output increased from 90 to 125 W (+39%), mainly because of increasing the maximal pedaling frequency (69-90 rpm; +30%). Maximal heart rate did not change (134-137 beats/min) in contrast to the maximal ventilation (57-70 l/min, +23%), increasing with both the respiratory frequency (38-41 cycles/min; +8%) and the tidal volume (1.5-1.7 liters; +13%). Respiratory exchange ratio increased (1.03-1.14) to the same extent as tolerance to V̇co2 In conclusion, it is possible to increase performance and V̇o2max with polarized training focusing on a high pedaling cadence even after turning 100 yr old.NEW & NOTEWORTHY This study shows, for the first time, that maximal oxygen consumption (+13%) and performance (+11%) can still be increased between 101 and 103 yr old with 2 yr of training and that a centenarian is able, at 103 yr old, to cover 26.9 km/h in 1 h.


V̇o2max; aging; centenarian; cycling; pedaling cadence

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