The effect of intensive endurance exercise training on body fat distribution in young and older men

Metabolism. 1991 May;40(5):545-51. doi: 10.1016/0026-0495(91)90239-s.


Little is known about the effects of exercise interventions on the distribution of central and/or intra-abdominal (IA) fat, and until now there were no studies in the elderly. Therefore, in this study we investigated the effects of an intensive 6-month endurance training program on overall body composition (hydrostatic weighing), fat distribution (body circumferences), and specific fat depots (computed tomography [CT]), in healthy young (n = 13; age, 28.2 +/- 2.4 years) and older (n = 15; age, 67.5 +/- 5.8 years) men. At baseline, overall body composition was similar in the two groups, except for a 9% smaller fat free mass in the older men (P less than .05). The thigh and arm circumferences were smaller (P = .001 and P less than .05, respectively), while the waist to hip ratio (WHR) was slightly greater in the older men (0.92 +/- 0.04 v 0.97 +/- 0.04, P less than .01). Compared with the relatively small baseline differences in body composition and circumferences, CT showed the older men to have a twofold greater IA fat depot (P less than .001), 48% less thigh subcutaneous (SC) fat (P less than .01), and 21% less thigh muscle mass (P less than .001). Following endurance (jog/bike) training, both the young (+18%, P less than .001) and the older men (+22%, P less than .001) significantly increased their maximal aerobic power (VO2max). This was associated with small but significant decrements in weight, percent body fat, and fat mass (all P less than .001) only in the older men.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Abdomen
  • Adipose Tissue / anatomy & histology*
  • Adult
  • Aging / blood
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Body Constitution
  • Body Mass Index
  • Epinephrine / blood
  • Hip
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Norepinephrine / blood
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Physical Education and Training*
  • Physical Endurance*


  • Norepinephrine
  • Epinephrine