Background: Age-related declines in sport performance are characteristic of all endurance and sprinting disciplines. However, it is not known if the mode of locomotion (ie, swimming, cycling or running) influences the age-related decline in sport performance in sprinting and endurance events.
Methods: To examine the age-related decline in 3 different modes of locomotion (ie, swimming, cycling, and running) for endurance and sprint events, the world-best performances achieved for men in the age groups 18–39, 40–44, 45–49, 50–54, 55–59, 60–64, 65–69, 70–74, 75–79, and 80–84 y were compared in swimming (1500 and 50 m), cycling (1 h and 200 m), and running (10 and 100 m). Each performance was considered as an average speed (throughout the distance), and the age-related decline in performance was expressed as a percentage of the world record (regardless of age group) for that discipline.
Results: The age-related decline in 1-h track cycling is less pronounced than in 1500-m swimming and 10-km running after 60 y. In contrast, the age-related decline was similar among the 3 locomotion modes for the sprinting events.
Conclusion: The data show that the maintenance of high performance in cycling persists longer into old age than in running and swimming.