Resilience to Exercise Detraining in Healthy Older Adults

Gary A. Sforzo, Beth G. McManis, Donna Black, Dawn Luniewski, Kent C.Scriber EdD

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To determine the effects of stopping and restarting two types of exercise programs in older adults. DESIGN: A controlled, longitudinal study that utilized random assignment of volunteers. Treatments were exercise programs designed to improve cardiovascular or neuromuscular fitness. MEASUREMENTS: Dependent variables measured before and after implementation of treatments were: maximum oxygen consumption, oxygen pulse, treadmill and cycle training workloads, quadriceps isokinetic peak torque, quadriceps isokinetic total work, and quadriceps training workload. MAIN RESULTS: Exercise training was highly effective in improving cardiovascular endurance or muscular strength. Ten weeks of exercise detraining resulted in small losses in newly gained cardiovascular capacity but more noticeable losses in muscular strength. Exercise retraining was accomplished easily using cardiovascular or resistive exercises. The functional benefits of restarting a cardiovascular exercise program appeared additive despite a 10‐week intervening period of exercise detraining. In this age group, cardiovascular exercise produced limited improvements in muscular strength, and resistive exercise training positively influenced cardiovascular exercise performance. CONCLUSIONS: Older adults are fairly resilient to 10 weeks of cardiovascular detraining and retain newly gained muscular strength for at least 5 weeks, despite an interruption of formal exercise. An occasional missed exercise session or temporary cessation of habitual exercise should not be a cause for distress in exercising older adults. Instead, they should realize the ease with which they may restart their exercise program and also appreciate the generalizable fitness benefits that can be ascribed to becoming more active. J Am Geriatr Soc 43: 209–215, 1995. 1995 The American Geriatrics Society

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-215
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1995
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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