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.