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Influence of exercise intensity on training-induced tendon mechanical properties changes in older individuals


This study compared the effects of low vs. high intensity training on tendon properties in an elderly population. Participants were pair-matched (gender, habitual physical activity, anthropometrics, and baseline knee extension strength) and then randomly assigned to low (LowR, i.e., ~40 % 1RM) or high (High R, i.e., ~80 % 1RM) intensity resistance training programmes for 12 weeks, 3× per week (LowR, n = 9, age 74 ± 5 years; HighR, n = 8, age 68 ± 6 years). Patellar tendon properties (stiffness [K], Young’s modulus [YM], cross-sectional area [T CSA], and tendon length [T L]) were measured pre and post training using a combination of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), B-mode ultrasonography, dynamometry, electromyography and ramped isometric knee extensions. With training K showed no significant change in the LowR group while it incremented by 57.7 % in the HighR group (p < 0.05). The 51.1 % group difference was significant (p < 0.05). These differences were still apparent when the data was normalized for T CSA and T L, i.e., significant increase in YM post-intervention in HighR (p < 0.05), but no change in LowR. These findings suggest that when prescribing exercise for a mixed genders elderly population, exercise intensities of ≤40 % 1RM may not be sufficient to affect tendon properties.

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Correspondence to Jean-Francois Grosset.

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Grosset, J., Breen, L., Stewart, C.E. et al. Influence of exercise intensity on training-induced tendon mechanical properties changes in older individuals. AGE 36, 9657 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11357-014-9657-9

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  • Elderly
  • Tendon properties
  • Resistance training
  • Load intensity