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H-Reflex Size in Young and Elderly Adults of Varying Physical Activity Levels

Gordon R. Chalmers and Kathleen M. Knutzen

The aim of this study was to determine whether elderly and young adults with similar physical activity levels have similar soleus H-wave maximum/M-wave maximum ratios (H-reflex size) and to determine the relationship between H-reflex size and physical activity level. H-reflex size and physical activity levels were measured in 18 elderly (71 ± 5.7 years) and 20 young (24 ± 4.2) participants. The physical activity levels of the 2 groups were not significantly different. The elderly group had smaller H-rellexes than the young group (elderly. 36% ± 27%; young, 59% ± 17%; p < .05), but the effect of age on H-reflex size was only moderate (omega squared = .19, effect size = .30). There was a weak tendency for higher levels of physical activity to be associated with larger H reflexes (r = .38, p < .05). The findings indicate that soleus H-reflex size is not strongly associated with age or physical activity level.