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J Nutr Health Aging. 2019;23(8):703-709. doi: 10.1007/s12603-019-1232-8.

Lower-Extremity Torque Capacity and Physical Function in Mobility-Limited Older Adults.

Author information

Gregory J. Grosicki, Ph.D., Department of Health Sciences and Kinesiology, Biodynamics and Human Performance Center, Georgia Southern University (Armstrong Campus), 11935 Abercorn Street, Savannah, GA, 31419. Phone: (912) 344-3317. Fax: (912) 344-3490. Email:



Skeletal muscle weakness and an increase in fatigability independently contribute to age-related functional decline. The objective of this study was to examine the combined contribution of these deficiencies (i.e., torque capacity) to physical function, and then to assess the functional implications of progressive resistance training (PRT) mediated-torque capacity improvements in mobility-limited older adults.


Randomized controlled trial.


Exercise laboratory on the Health Sciences campus of an urban university.


Seventy mobility-limited (Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB) ≤9) older adults (~79 yrs).


Progressive resistance training or home-based flexibility 3 days/week for 12 weeks.


Torque capacity was defined as the sum of peak torques from an isokinetic knee extension fatigue test. Relationships between torque capacity and performance-based and patient-reported functional measures before and after PRT were examined using partial correlations adjusted for age, sex, and body mass index.


Torque capacity explained (P<0.05) 10 and 28% of the variance in six-minute walk distance and stair climb time, respectively. PRT-mediated torque capacity improvements were paralleled by increases (P<0.05) in self-reported activity participation (+20%) and advanced lower extremity function (+7%), and associated (P<0.05) with a reduction in activity limitations (r=0.44) and an improved SPPB score (r=0.32).


Skeletal muscle torque capacity, a composite of strength and fatigue, may be a proximal determinant of physical function in mobility-limited older individuals. To more closely replicate the musculoskeletal demands of real-life tasks, future studies are encouraged to consider the combined interaction of distinct skeletal muscle faculties to overall functional ability in older adults.


Skeletal muscle; older adults; physical function; sarcopenia; torque capacity


Conflict of interest statement

Dr. Grosicki reports grants from Astellas Pharmaceuticals Inc, grants from U.S. Department of Agriculture (agreement No. 58-1950-4-003), grants from Boston Claude D Pepper Center (OAIC; 1P30AG031679), grants from National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (Award Number UL1TR001064), National Institutes of Health, during the conduct of the study. Dr. Englund reports grants from Astellas Pharma Inc, during the conduct of the study. Ms. Price reports other from Tufts University/HNRCA, during the conduct of the study. Dr. Iwai reports personal fees from Astellas Pharma Inc., during the conduct of the study; personal fees from Astellas Pharma Inc., outside the submitted work. Dr. Kashiwa reports personal fees from Astellas Pharma Inc., during the conduct of the study; personal fees from Astellas Pharma Inc., outside the submitted work. Dr. Reid has nothing to disclose. Dr. Fielding reports grants from National Institutes of Health (National Institute on Aging), during the conduct of the study; grants, personal fees and other from Axcella Health, other from Inside Tracker, grants and personal fees from Biophytis, grants and personal fees from Astellas, personal fees from Cytokinetics, personal fees from Amazentis, grants and personal fees from Nestle’, personal fees from Glaxo Smith Kline, outside the submitted work. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of the USDA. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH. Identifier: NCT03083275.

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