Purpose: To analyze, both by a retrospective and prospective study design, the relationship of maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max) and physical activity (PA) to upper respiratory tract infections (URTI) symptomatology in elderly subjects.
Methods: 61 (33 men and 28 women) healthy and weight-stable active elderly volunteers aged 66-84 yr participated in the study. PA was evaluated by a questionnaire QAPSE (Questionnaire d'Activite Physique Saint-Etienne) and expressed by two QAPSE activity indices: MHDEE (mean habitual daily energy expenditure) and sports activity (daily energy expenditure corresponding to leisure time sports activities). Log books for daily recording of URTI symptomatology were used in prospective design.
Results: In a 1-yr retrospective study a significant correlation was found between number of weeks with URTI per year and Sports activity index (r = -0.27, P = 0.037). In a prospective 12-month follow-up, the number of episodes per year and number of days with URTI per year were significantly negatively associated with sports activity index (r = -0.29, P = 0.022 and r = -0.26, P = 0.041, respectively).
Conclusions: In healthy active elderly subjects the symptomatology of URTI over long periods of time is inversly related to energy expenditure utilized during moderately intensive physical exercise.