Role of respiratory system function in the age-related decline of human functional capacity

Blackwell Publishing Asia
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Australasian Journal on Ageing, 2005, 24 (3), pp. 153 - 156
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Keywords: disuse;physical activity;quality of life Objective: To examine the age-related decline of physical and respiratory system function in older individuals. Methods: Using a cross-sectional research design, 36 healthy participants were assigned to group A (5059 years) or group B (6069 years). Males (n = 14) and females (n = 22) were examined separately. Physical capacity was determined using a combination of two walking tests. Measures of pulmonary function, respiratory muscle (RM) strength and inspiratory muscle endurance (IME) were used to assess respiratory system function. Results: Significant age-related declines in RM strength, IME and walking ability were apparent for females, but not males. An increase in age was associated with less efficient breathing mechanics during exercise. Conclusions: The more substantial age-related declines in RM and physical function for females may be related to greater age-related reductions in physical activity participation. As individuals are living for increasingly longer periods, the continuance of such declines may significantly impair quality of life. Methods of overcoming respiratory system decline and the role of such methods in maintaining the physical capacity of ageing individuals require investigation.
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