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A trial was conducted to examine the effect of moderate aerobic exercise training (AET) on cardiorespiratory (CR) fitness. Previously sedentary participants, age 60-75 years, were randomly assigned to either AET treatment or a control group for 6 months. The AET consisted of walking for 40 min three times/week at an intensity that elevated heart rate to 65% of maximum heart rate reserve. The control group performed a supervised stretching program for 40 min three times/week. CR fitness was assessed before and after the treatments during a grade-incremented treadmill walking test. Both absolute and relative peak V̇O2 significantly increased (p < .01) in the AET group, whereas they decreased modestly in the control group. Maximum treadmill time increased significantly (p < .01) in the AET group relative to the control group. These results indicate that CR fitness as measured by peak V̇O2 modestly improves in the elderly with a moderate-intensity, relatively long-term aerobic exercise program.

The authors are with the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801.