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Exercise Makes People Live Young

Jan 23, 2015

In the study, the older athletes’ physical functions were more similar to that of young adults than of people their age…

In a cross-sectional cohort study, researchers measured the relationship between age and physiological activity in healthy older individuals. The study included 84 male and 41 female cyclists aged 55 to 79 years old who had to be able to cycle 100km in under 6.5 hours and 60km in 5.5 hours. The primary endpoint was to identify physiological markers of aging.

In the study, participants experienced 2 days of laboratory testing at King’s College London. During these processes, each participant’s physiological profile was established including measurement of cardiovascular, respiratory, neuromuscular, metabolic, endocrine and cognitive functions, bone strength and health and well-being.
The result demonstrated a significant association between age and function in maximal rate of oxygen consumption (VO2 max) (r= -0.443 to -0.664; P < 0.001). However, this marker could not identify with any degree of accuracy any given individual. In the study, the participants’ physical functions remained more similar to that of young adults than of people their age. Even among the oldest participants, levels of balance, reflexes, memory, and metabolic health were similar to younger people.

The authors concluded that a relationship between physiological function and aging is complex and possibly highly individualistic. Since the study is based on a single snapshot of older adults, longer studies are necessary to provide better information about the ongoing effects of exercise on aging.

Practice Pearls:

  • The study concluded that aging is a highly individualist phenomenon.
  • A sedentary lifestyle causes physiological problems at any age.
  • More exercises seem to help people to live healthier as we age, but more studies are necessary to better understand the effects of aging in the human body.

Pollock RD, Carter S, Velloso CP, Duggal NA, Lord JM, et al. An investigation into the relationship between age and physiological function in highly active older adults.
The Journal of Physiology. 2014 Jan 6; 10:1113