Successful 6-month endurance training does not alter insulin-like growth factor-I in healthy older men and women

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 1997 May;52(3):M149-54. doi: 10.1093/gerona/52a.3.m149.


Background: Lean body mass, strength, and endurance decline with advancing age, changes paralleled by declines in anabolic hormones, including growth hormone (GH) and insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I). Acute exercise has been shown to stimulate the GH/IGF-I axis, and long-term exercise increases GH. This study examined the effect of endurance training on IGF-I in healthy older men and women.

Methods: Thirty-one healthy older men (66.9 +/- 1.0 yrs, mean +/- SEM) and 21 healthy older women (67.1 +/- 1.7 yrs) were randomized to either 3d/wk, 6-month endurance (ET3) or stretching/flexibility (SF3) protocols. Another group of 15 healthy older men (69.0 +/- 1.3 yrs) participated in a more intensive 5d/wk, 6-month endurance protocol (ET5). Before and after training, subjects were weight stabilized and participated in maximal exercise tolerance testing, body composition assessment, and fasting blood sampling.

Results: ET3 training resulted in a significant increase (14%) in maximal aerobic power (VO2max), significant decreases in body weight (BW), fat mass (FM), and waist/hip ratio (WHR), and a significant increase in fat-free mass (FFM). No significant VO2max or body composition changes were observed in the SF3 group. For the ET5 group, a significant increase (22%) in VO2max and significant decrease in BW, FM, and WHR were observed. No significant changes in IGF-I were observed for any of the three groups. Pre- versus post-training IGF-I values were very stable (r = .86, p < .001) across subjects.

Conclusions: Within-subject basal levels of IGF-I in healthy seniors were extremely stable between pre- and post-training assessments. Two endurance training protocols of magnitudes sufficient to significantly increase aerobic capacity and decrease measures of body adiposity did not significantly increase basal levels of IGF-I in healthy older men and women.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / blood*
  • Body Composition
  • Body Constitution
  • Body Weight
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / analysis*
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Physical Education and Training*
  • Physical Endurance*
  • Reference Values


  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I