Ventilatory threshold (VT) is an important predictor of cardiorespiratory fitness, such as peak oxygen uptake V̇O2peak and is a valuable index of aerobic exercise intensity. However, little is known about the role of skeletal muscle (SM) mass in the age-associated decline of VT. Therefore, the present study was performed to investigate the effects of age on cardiopulmonary fitness normalised for regional SM mass in 1,463 Japanese men and women, and to determine the relevance of VT normalised to SM mass based on age and gender. Total, trunk and thigh SM mass were measured using an ultrasound method, while V̇O2peak and VT were determined during treadmill walking. V̇O2peak was estimated using the predicted maximum heart rate (HR) and the HR-V̇O2 relationship for sub-maximal treadmill walking. There were significant negative correlations between VT normalised for body mass and age in men and women (P < 0.001). Age-associated declines were also observed in VT normalised for body mass in both men and women; however, VT normalised for SM mass was not significantly different with age. Significant correlations were also observed between thigh SM mass and VT in both men and women. These results suggest that thigh SM mass is closely associated with V̇O2peak and/or VT in both men and women, and the decrease in VT with age is predominantly due to an age-related decline of SM mass. Moreover, this study provides normative cardiorespiratory fitness data regarding VT normalised SM mass in healthy men and women aged 20-80 years.
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