Flow limitation and regulation of functional residual capacity during exercise in a physically active aging population

Am Rev Respir Dis. 1991 May;143(5 Pt 1):960-7. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm/143.5_Pt_1.960.


In 29 older (69 +/- 1 yr), physically active subjects (VO2max = 44 +/- 2 ml.kg-1.min-1), we determined the effect of an age-related decline in elastic lung recoil (i.e., Vmax50 = 65% of 30-yr-old adults) on the ventilatory response to progressive exercise. More specifically, we assessed if expiratory airflow limits were achieved and how this may modulate the regulation of end-expiratory lung volume (EELV). We found that with only mild to moderate (50 to 75% VO2max) exercise, the mean EELV was reduced 0.38 +/- 0.07 L, and that expiratory flow limitation was present over 25 +/- 4% of the VT. In 11 subjects during this intensity of exercise, EELV was within their closing capacity. As exercise intensity progressed, VT plateaued at 58 +/- 2% of the vital capacity, and increased expiratory air flow rates were achieved by significantly increasing the EELV back to near resting levels, thereby moving a portion of the expiratory tidal flow-volume envelope away from the constraints of the effort independent portion of the maximal flow-volume curve. During heavy exercise, end-inspiratory lung volume (EILV) approached 90% of TLC. To achieve greater expiratory flow with maximal exercise, EELV remained similar to the previous intensity, and a significantly greater portion of the tidal expiratory flow-volume envelope (greater than 40% of the VT) became flow-limited. Despite this significant expiratory limitation, a rise in EELV, and an EILV approaching TLC, TI/Ttot remained constant throughout exercise, and the ventilatory response for the metabolic demand (VA/VCO2) was appropriate.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Functional Residual Capacity / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Lung Volume Measurements
  • Male
  • Pulmonary Ventilation / physiology*
  • Running
  • Walking