Improved metabolic fitness, but no cardiovascular health effects, of a low-frequency short-term combined exercise program in 50-70-year-olds with low fitness: A randomized controlled trial

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We evaluated the cardiometabolic effects of a 15-week combined exercise program, implemented in sports clubs, for 50-70-year-olds with low aerobic fitness. In a randomized controlled trial, 45 participants (26 women) with low fitness were randomly assigned (2:1-ratio) to a training group (TG, n=30) or inactive control group (CG, n=15). TG had 15 weeks with one weekly 90-min supervised group-based session in a recreational sports club with combined aerobic exercise and strength training and were encouraged to perform home-based training 30 min/wk. Evaluations of relative VO2max (mLO2/min/kg), blood pressure, resting heart rate (HR), echocardiography, peripheral arterial tonometry, body composition, lipid profile and HbA1c were performed at 0 and 15 wks. Average HR during supervised training was 113±13 bpm (68.6±7.0%HRmax), with 4.3±6.6% spent >90%HRmax. At 15-wk follow-up, intention-to-treat analyses revealed no between-group difference for VO2max/kg (0.4 mLO2/min/kg, 95%CI -0.8 to 1.5, P=0.519; -3 mL/min, 95%CI -123 to 117, P=0.966) or other cardiovascular outcomes (all P>0.05). Compared to CG, total fat mass (-1.9 kg; 95%CI -3.2 to -0.5, P=0.005), total fat percentage (-1.3%, 95%CI -2.2 to -0.3, P=0.01) and total/HDL cholesterol ratio (P=0.032) decreased in TG. Regular adherence to supervised training was high (81%), but 0% for home-based exercise. In conclusion, the group-based supervised training was associated with high adherence and moderate exercise intensity, whereas insufficiently supported home-based training was not feasible. Together, 15 wks of combined exercise training did not improve aerobic fitness or affected cardiovascular function in 50-70-yr-olds with low aerobic fitness, whereas some positive effects were observed in metabolic parameters.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Sport Science
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Feb 2021

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Science - Aerobic fitness, Fat percentage, Body composition, Exercise intensity, Adherence

ID: 255045041