Age vs. Exercise.

You are getting older. I guess that is something that we loose sight of easily and don’t really want to be reminded of either. However, with the above point in mind, I want to look at a study done at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School.slothful

The précis of the study goes as follows: – 1966 – 5 healthy men were put on 3 weeks bed rest to see what would happen to them. The results included faster resting heart rates, higher systolic blood pressures, a drop in the heart’s maximum pumping capacity, a rise in body fat, and a fall in muscle strength. After three weeks of rest these men demonstrated health levels of people twice their age. – The men agreed to be evaluated again at age 50. The intervening 30 years had seen an average weight increase of 25% with body fat doubling. Resting heart rates increased, cardiac function decreased and blood pressure increased. – Researchers now took the men and put them on a 6-month regimen of walking, jogging and cycling. The results were as follows: an average of 5kg loss in weight, lower resting heart rates and blood pressures, and their heart’s maximum pumping abilities were back to their baseline level from age 20. – Aerobic power therefore returned to what they enjoyed in their 20’s. Muscle power had diminished with the passage of time, however exercise had dramatically helped to restore their overall health.

The Texas studies showed that endurance exercise is the best way to improve cardiovascular function and slow the effects of aging.

Have a look at the table below to get an idea of the benefits of exercise vs aging.

Exercise vs. aging

  Effect of aging Effect of exercise
Heart and circulation
Resting heart rate Increase Decrease
Maximum heart rate Decrease Slows the decrease
Maximum pumping capacity Decrease Increase
Heart muscle stiffness Increase Decrease
Blood vessel stiffness Increase Decrease
Blood pressure Increase Decrease
Number of red blood cells Decrease No change
Blood viscosity (“thickness”) Increase Decrease
Maximum oxygen uptake Decrease No change
Speed of emptying Decrease Increase
Calcium content and strength Decrease Increase
Muscle mass and strength Decrease Increase
Metabolic rate Decrease Increase
Body fat Increase Decrease
Blood sugar Increase Decrease
Insulin levels Increase Decrease
LDL (“bad”) cholesterol Increase Decrease
HDL (“good”) cholesterol Decrease Increase
Sex hormone levels Decrease Slight decrease
Nervous system
Nerve conduction and reflexes Slower Decrease
Quality of sleep Decrease Increase
Risk of depression Increase Decrease
Memory lapses Increase Decrease

Bottom line, it does not matter at what age you begin to excercise, the main point is that you  begin. Aim for endurance sports such as swimming, biking and running. Please make sure with your Doctor that you can embark on an exercise program without risk to your health.

We will look at some further benefits in a subsequent blog.


Mike Roscoe.

About sbrsport

SBR Sport specialises in Swimming, Biking and Running. On the medical side we are able to do intensive bike setups, leg assessments and soft tissue release. Follow us on twitter - and/or facebook -
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