Journal of Human Sport and Exercise

Effect of a 16-month exercise training program on functional capacities in a centenarian male master athlete: A case study

Ario Federici, Carlo Ferri-Marini, Gabriele Brandoni, Eugenio Grassi, Manuela Valentini, Francesco Lucertini



The effects of exercise training have never been investigated in centenarians. This single-subject research study aimed to assess the effects of a structured training protocol on functional capacities in a centenarian master athlete. A 99.5 years old male subject participated in the study. Before and after a 16-month training intervention the participant underwent a test battery for flexibility (YMCA sit and reach), balance (single leg stance), upper limb strength (hand grip and pinch strength), and lower limb power (counter movement jump) and muscular endurance (horizontal leg press with 85 kg load). After training, sit and reach (-3 cm) and counter movement jump (- 0.5 cm) scores decreased, whereas single leg stance (+1.3 s), left hand grip (+2.0 kg), right hand pinch (+ 0.5 kg), and horizontal leg press (+2 repetitions) scores increased. Right hand grip strength and left-hand pinch strength did not change after training. When pre- and post-training scores were compared to gender-matched normative values, flexibility resulted well below average, maybe because of a relatively broad age category (> 65 years). When more specific age categories were available, the participant’s balance resulted slightly below average (age category 80-99 years) and upper limb strength above average (age category > 85 years). No normative values were found for lower limb power and muscular endurance. In conclusion, this study highlights that structured exercise training may play a role in maintaining – and even in increasing – functional capacities in the oldest old age.


Oldest old; Single-subject research; Aging; Exercise program


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