Palmer, D., Boyd, K., Carrick-Ranson, G., Fujimoto, N., Creson, D., Livingston, S., Hastings, J., & Levine, B. (2013). Blood volume increases with 1 year of endurance training in healthy seniors. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 45(5), Supplement abstract number 2050.

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This study determined the effect of one year and lifelong (>20 years) exercise training on blood volume in healthy seniors (N = 136). Ss (N = 29) completed one year of endurance training consisting of 4 x 40 minutes (55-70% of VO2max) moderate-intensity sessions per week and 2 x 30 minutes (70-85% of VO2max) higher-intensity sessions per month. Other Ss (N = 29) participated in yoga or tai-chi two or three days per week as a control group. Furthermore, a cross-sectional study was performed on an additional 78 seniors recruited from the Cooper Center Longitudinal Study. Those Ss were categorized into one of four groups (Sedentary, Casual, Committed, and Masters Athletes) based on a consistent, self-reported exercise history over at least the prior 20 years. VO2max was measured for all Ss using the Douglas Bag method via an incremental protocol. Blood volume was measured with a modified carbon monoxide re-breathing method.

Relative blood volume (+6.9%) and VO2max (+7.2%) increased among sedentary seniors who exercised for 12 months. Their post-training status was similar to that of lifelong Casual exercisers. Blood volume and aerobic power of those seniors who participated in yoga or tai-chi remained unchanged.

Implication. Sedentary seniors who perform one year of endurance training increase blood volume similar to what has been reported in young individuals. The present study also suggests that a lifetime of endurance exercise training not only preserves but increases blood volume in a dose dependent fashion.

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