Similar Running Economy for Older, Younger Runners

Decline seen in cardiorespiratory variables, strength, and power of older runners

MONDAY, Dec. 5 (HealthDay News) -- The running economy (RE) of older competitive distance runners does not differ from that of their younger counterparts, according to a study published in the November issue of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

Timothy J. Quinn, M.D., from the University of New Hampshire in Durham, and colleagues investigated the association of age with factors that affect RE in competitive distance runners. Fifty-one male and female sub-elite distance runners were stratified by age, as young (18 participants; age 18 to 39 years), master (22 participants; age 40 to 59 years), and older (11 participants; age 60 years and older). Participants were assessed for RE, step rate, maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max), lactate threshold (LT), flexibility, muscle strength and endurance, power, and body composition. An RE assessment for participants included a five minute run at each of four velocities tested. The steady-state VO2 was recorded during the last minute of each stage and was plotted against speed.

The investigators found that the slopes of the RE regression lines did not differ significantly between the groups on a 1 × 3 analysis of variance. All groups varied significantly in the maximal heart rate and velocity at LT. Compared with the young and master groups, participants in the older group had significantly lower VO2max, VO2 at LT, flexibility, power, and upper body strength. Multiple regression analyses indicated a significant association of strength and power with running velocity.

"Age-related declines in running performance are associated with declines in maximal and submaximal cardiorespiratory variables and declines in strength and power, not because of declines in running economy," the authors write.

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