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Simon Higgins, Chad R. Straight and Richard D. Lewis

Endurance athletes commonly ingest caffeine as a means to enhance training intensity and competitive performance. A widely-used source of caffeine is coffee, however conflicting evidence exists regarding the efficacy of coffee in improving endurance performance. In this context, the aims of this evidence-based review were threefold: 1) to evaluate the effects of preexercise coffee on endurance performance, 2) to evaluate the effects of coffee on perceived exertion during endurance performance, and 3) to translate the research into usable information for athletes to make an informed decision regarding the intake of caffeine via coffee as a potential ergogenic aid. Searches of three major databases were performed using terms caffeine and coffee, or coffee-caffeine, and endurance, or aerobic. Included studies (n = 9) evaluated the effects of caffeinated coffee on human subjects, provided the caffeine dose administered, administered caffeine ≥ 45 min before testing, and included a measure of endurance performance (e.g., time trial). Significant improvements in endurance performance were observed in five of nine studies, which were on average 24.2% over controls for time to exhaustion trials, and 3.1% for time to completion trials. Three of six studies found that coffee reduced perceived exertion during performance measures significantly more than control conditions (p < .05). Based on the reviewed studies there is moderate evidence supporting the use of coffee as an ergogenic aid to improve performance in endurance cycling and running. Coffee providing 3–8.1 mg/kg (1.36–3.68 mg/lb) of caffeine may be used as a safe alternative to anhydrous caffeine to improve endurance performance.

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Anne O. Brady, Chad R. Straight and Ellen M. Evans

The aging process leads to adverse changes in body composition (increases in fat mass and decreases in skeletal muscle mass), declines in physical function (PF), and ultimately increased risk for disability and loss of independence. Specific components of body composition or muscle capacity (strength and power) may be useful in predicting PF; however, findings have been mixed regarding the most salient predictor of PF. The development of a conceptual model potentially aids in understanding the interrelated factors contributing to PF with the factors of interest being physical activity, body composition, and muscle capacity. This article also highlights sex differences in these domains. Finally, factors known to affect PF, such as sleep, depression, fatigue, and self-efficacy, are discussed. Development of a comprehensive conceptual model is needed to better characterize the most salient factors contributing to PF and to subsequently inform the development of interventions to reduce physical disability in older adults.

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Chad R. Straight, Leah R. Dorfman, Kathryn E. Cottell, Julie M. Krol, Ingrid E. Lofgren and Matthew J. Delmonico

Background:

Community-based interventions that incorporate resistance training (RT) and dietary changes have not been extensively studied in overweight and obese older adults. The purpose of this investigation was to determine the effects of a community-based RT and dietary intervention on physical function and body composition in overweight and obese older adults.

Methods:

Ninety-five overweight and obese (BMI = 33.4 ± 4.0 kg/m2) older adults aged 55–80 years completed an 8-week RT and dietary intervention at 4 Rhode Island senior centers. Participants performed RT twice-weekly using resistance tubing, dumbbells, and ankle weights. Participants also attended 1 weekly dietary counseling session on a modified Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet. Outcome measurements included anthropometrics, body composition, and physical function.

Results:

There were small changes in body mass (–1.0 ± 1.8 kg, P < .001), waist circumference (–5.2 ± 3.8 cm, P < .001), and percent body fat (–0.5 ± 1.4%, P < .001). In addition, significant improvements were observed in knee extensor torque (+7.9 ± 19.1 N-m, P < .001), handgrip strength (+1.2 ± 2.5 kg, P < .001), and 8-foot up-and-go test time (–0.56 ± 0.89 s, P < .001).

Conclusion:

Community-based RT and dietary modifications can improve body composition, muscle strength, and physical function in overweight and obese older adults. Future investigations should determine if this intervention is effective for long-term changes.