Relationship between ventilatory function and age in master athletes and a sedentary reference population

Hans Degens*, Thomas Mark Maden-Wilkinson, Alex Ireland, Marko T. Korhonen, Harri Suominen, Ari Heinonen, Zsolt Radak, Jamie S. McPhee, Jörn Rittweger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Ageing is accompanied with a decline in respiratory function. It is hypothesised that this may be attenuated by high physical activity levels. We performed spirometry in master athletes (71 women; 84 men; 35-86 years) and sedentary people (39 women; 45 men; 24-82 years), and calculated the predicted lung age (PLA). The negative associations of age with forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1; 34 mL·year-1) and other ventilatory parameters were similar in controls and master athletes. FEV1pred was 9 % higher (P < 0.005) and PLA 15 % lower (P = 0.013) in athletes than controls. There were no significant differences between endurance and power athletes and sedentary people in maximal inspiratory and expiratory pressure. Neither age-graded performance nor weekly training hours were significantly related to lung age. Life-long exercise does not appear to attenuate the age-related decrease in ventilatory function. The better respiratory function in master athletes than age-matched sedentary people might be due to self-selection and attrition bias.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1007-1015
Number of pages9
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Jun
Externally publishedYes


  • FEV
  • Lung age
  • Mouth pressure
  • Peak expiratory flow
  • Physical activity
  • Physical exercise

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ageing
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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