Study shows when 80 is the new 40


The more physically fit we are, the more we can handle of what life throws our way. A natural mood regulator and stress reliever, exercise helps increase overall physical strength and allows for maintaining a greater degree of independence as we age.

When it comes to endurance, people who exercise on a regular basis up to the age of 80 have the same aerobic capacity as someone half their age, says a new study from Ball State University.

“New Records in Aerobic Power Among Octogenarian Lifelong Endurance Athletes,” a Ball State research project conducted in collaboration with several Swedish researchers, found that the longtime athletes in the study are enjoying vibrant and healthy lives. The study was recently published in the Journal of Applied Physiology.

“In this case, 80 is the new 40,” said the study’s lead author Scott Trappe, director of Ball State’s Human Performance Laboratory (HPL). “These athletes are not who we think of when we consider 80-year-olds because they are in fantastic shape. They are simply incredible, happy people who enjoy life and are living it to the fullest. They are still actively engaged in competitive events.”

Researchers examined nine endurance athletes from northern Sweden and compared them to a group of healthy men from Indiana in the same age group who only performed the activities of daily living with no history of structured exercise.

Members of the two study groups rode exercise bikes as researchers measured oxygen uptake. When the participants reached total exhaustion, they had reached maximum oxygen uptake (also known as VO2 max). Skeletal muscle biopsies were then taken.

The study also found the endurance athletes established new upper limits for aerobic power in men 80-91 years old, including a maximum oxygen uptake that was nearly twice that of untrained men their age.

“To our knowledge, the VO2 max of the lifelong endurance athletes was the highest recorded in humans in this age group, and comparable to nonendurance-trained men 40 years younger,” Trappe said. “We also analyzed the aerobic capacity of their muscles by examining biopsies taken from thigh muscles, and found it was about double that of typical men. In fact, the oldest gentleman was 91 years old, but his aerobic capacity resembles that of a man 50 years younger. It was absolutely astounding.”

A person’s VO2 max is a proving to be a better predictor of mortality than many better-known cardiovascular risk factors, Trappe said. Based upon the VO2max findings, the lifelong exercisers have a 50 percent lower all-cause mortality risk compared to the untrained men.

The current research is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in

How headache pain happens and what can help
How headache pain happens and what can help

If you’ve noticed an uptick in how often you’ve had a headache this summer, you’re not alone. Allergies, travel stress, dehydration, humidity and extreme heat can all lead to headaches. “Although there are several types of headaches, migraine and tension headaches are the most common,” says neurologist Michelle Noel, DO...
Fiona the hippo is 6 months old today, so here are 6 of our FAVORITE photos
Fiona the hippo is 6 months old today, so here are 6 of our FAVORITE photos

She’s the little hippo that could. Well, maybe not so little anymore. Regardless, she’s won over millions of hearts and has plenty of fans. Today, July 24, Fiona turns six months old. What better way to celebrate this milestone than with six of our favorite photos?
It’s the 2nd-leading cause of absence from work

Irritable bowel syndrome is characterized by uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms, but it’s the effect the health issue can have on one’s everyday life that has the greatest impact on sufferers. Irritable bowel syndrome, also known as IBS, is a health issue that affects up to 20 percent of Americans with many chronic symptoms such as...
Swimmer’s ear can be avoided, here’s how

Whether you’re plunging into your neighborhood pool or jumping waves at the beach, an ugly bout of swimmer’s ear may be just a splash away. Acute otitis externa, commonly known as swimmer’s ear, is an infection of the ear canal - the tubular opening that carries sound from the outside of the body to the eardrum. “The infection...
Parenting with the Kid Whisperer: Mom or servant? Hmmm…

Dear Kid Whisperer, I have three boys, aged 8, 12, and 16, who are all quite disrespectful and very unappreciative of me. It’s very hurtful. I am a stay-at-home mom and I think of myself as being great at my job. I cook them hot meals, do their laundry, clean their rooms, drive them everywhere, and help them with their homework. I take care of...
More Stories