Endurance training (ET) is recommended for the elderly to improve metabolic health and aerobic capacity. However, ET-induced adaptations may be suboptimal due to oxidative stress and exaggerated inflammatory response to ET. The natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory dietary supplement astaxanthin (AX) has been found to increase endurance performance among young athletes, but limited investigations have focused on the elderly. We tested a formulation of AX in combination with ET in healthy older adults (65-82 years) to determine if AX improves metabolic adaptations with ET, and if AX effects are sex-dependent. Forty-two subjects were randomized to either placebo (PL) or AX during 3 months of ET. Specific muscle endurance was measured in ankle dorsiflexors. Whole body exercise endurance and fat oxidation (FATox) was assessed with a graded exercise test (GXT) in conjunction with indirect calorimetry. Results: ET led to improved specific muscle endurance only in the AX group (Pre 353 ± 26 vs. Post 472 ± 41 contractions), and submaximal GXT duration improved in both groups (PL 40.8 ± 9.1% and AX 41.1 ± 6.3%). The increase in FATox at lower intensity after ET was greater in AX (PL 0.23 ± 0.15 g vs. AX 0.76 ± 0.18 g) and was associated with reduced carbohydrate oxidation and increased exercise efficiency in males but not in females.
Keywords: aging; anti-oxidants; astaxanthin; fat oxidation; sex difference; training adaptation.
© 2021 The Authors. Physiological Reports published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of The Physiological Society and the American Physiological Society.