Intrinsic Aerobic Capacity Sets a Divide for Aging and Longevity

G. Koch, O.J. Kemi, N. Qi, S.X. Leng, P. Bijma, L.J. Gilligan, J.E. Wilkinson, E.M. van Grevenhof

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

114 Citations (Scopus)


Rationale: Low aerobic exercise capacity is a powerful predictor of premature morbidity and mortality for healthy adults as well as those with cardiovascular disease. For aged populations, poor performance on treadmill or extended walking tests indicates closer proximity to future health declines. Together, these findings suggest a fundamental connection between aerobic capacity and longevity. Objectives: Through artificial selective breeding, we developed an animal model system to prospectively test the association between aerobic exercise capacity and survivability (aerobic hypothesis). Methods and Results: Laboratory rats of widely diverse genetic backgrounds (N:NIH stock) were selectively bred for low or high intrinsic (inborn) treadmill running capacity. Cohorts of male and female rats from generations 14, 15, and 17 of selection were followed for survivability and assessed for age-related declines in cardiovascular fitness including maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max), myocardial function, endurance performance, and change in body mass. Median lifespan for low exercise capacity rats was 28% to 45% shorter than high capacity rats (hazard ratio, 0.06; P
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1162-1172
JournalCirculation Research
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • all-cause mortality
  • left-ventricular mass
  • exercise capacity
  • cardiorespiratory fitness
  • artificial selection
  • older-adults
  • risk-factors
  • cardiovascular-disease
  • physical-fitness
  • failing heart


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