Growth hormone response to graded exercise intensities is attenuated and the gender difference abolished in older adults

Arthur Weltman, Judy Y. Weltman, Cathy Pritzlaff Roy, Laurie Wideman, James Patrie, William S. Evans, Johannes D. Veldhuis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


We investigated the joint impact of age, gender, and exercise intensity on growth hormone (GH) secretion. At a university center, nine young men, eight young women, seven older men, and six older women were each tested on six randomly ordered occasions [control (C) and 5 exercise conditions (Ex)]. Serum GH concentrations were measured by immunochemiluminometry [10-min samples: 0700-0900 (baseline); 0900-1300 (C or Ex + recovery)]. Integrated GH concentrations (IGHC) were calculated by trapezoidal reconstruction, and GH secretion was modeled by deconvolution analyses. Subjects exercised from 0900 to 0930 at graded intensities [standardized to individual lactate threshold (LT)] of 25 and 75% of the difference between rest and LT, LT, and 25 and 75% of the difference between LT and peak oxygen consumption. Data were analyzed via mixed-effects ANOVA for repeated measures with post hoc contrasts. We found that 1) Ex elevated IGHC above C in all four cohorts, 2) 1.75 LT Ex resulted in maximal IGHC, 3) IGHC differed by gender in young (women > men) but not older adults, 4) older adults secreted 50% less GH during graded exercise, 5) Ex selectively augmented the mass of GH secreted per burst, and 6) higher Ex + recovery IGHC in young women was due to higher baseline IGHC, rather than greater stimulated GH secretion. We conclude that young women manifest a greater absolute and incremental IGHC response to exercise than postmenopausal women and men of any age. Age diminishes the GH response to exercise and abolishes the young-adult gender difference. Attenuation of GH responses to all exercise intensities in older adults has implications for exercise prescription because higher exercise intensities may be required to stimulate GH release in older adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1623-1629
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2006


  • Aging
  • Human
  • Lactate threshold
  • Somatotropic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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