Journal Article

Exercise, Physiological Function, and the Selection of Participants for Aging Research

Norman R. Lazarus and Stephen D. R. Harridge

in The Journals of Gerontology: Series A

Volume 65A, issue 8, pages 854-857
Published in print August 2010 | ISSN: 1079-5006
Published online February 2010 | e-ISSN: 1758-535X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/gerona/glq016
Exercise, Physiological Function, and the Selection of Participants for Aging Research

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Background.

Regular and vigorous exercisers appear to be the logical choice for studying the inherent aging process as they are essentially free from the complications of disuse. Cross-sectional studies of aging tend to depict an essentially smooth and progressive decrement of physiological function with increasing chronological age. On closer examination of such data, it is seen that although the young have high functional values and the very old low, between these limits, values are widely scattered.

Methods.

We have reevaluated published data from a meta-analysis of 242 studies on men and from a similar study on women. From both data sets, where [math] was plotted against chronological age, we stratified the [math] values into bandwidth intervals of 5 ml/kg/minute and then allocated data points to their respective bandwidth irrespective of chronological age.

Results.

When replotted into bandwidths of functional equivalence, these data show that at the extremes of function, the young are separated from the old. Between these values, each functional bandwidth accommodates a wide age range. The decrement in function with chronological age is not smooth or well defined.

Conclusions.

We suggest that participants for research into healthy aging should be initially segregated into bands of functionally equivalent [math] values irrespective of their chronological age. Subsequently, other physiological measurements should be made on every participant in the band in order to begin to define the physiological profile of the participants. By conducting longitudinal studies on every individual, it will be possible to chart the physiological history of each participant through various ages. Segregating participants into cohorts of functional equivalence with data handling blinded to chronological age may be of great utility in increasing our understanding of the inherent aging process.

Keywords: Exercise; aging; V˙O2max

Journal Article.  2059 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Geriatric Medicine ; Public Health ; Biological Sciences ; Molecular and Cell Biology ; Neuroscience

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