Effects Of Aging On Exercise Performance

As we get older do we get slower? Are we weaker? As we age, must we accept that we’ll have less energy? The answers are not necessarily black and white. First, the rate of decline in endurance varies from person to person. Our genetics play a big role here. Second, the different systems in our body age at different rates.
Current research shows the following effects of age on an active healthy human body:

Cardiovascular System
– heart becomes less efficient
– decrease of 8 -10% per decade in it’s ability to supply oxygen to muscles
– decline in maximal heart rate and maximal cardiac output
– aerobic capacity decreases moderately as a result of decline in max heart rate and stroke volume

Respiratory System
– less efficient due to loss of elasticity
– maximum breathing capacity decreases by about 60% from age 30 to 80 (breathe deeply everyday!)

Muscular System
– progressive loss of lean tissue from about age 40
– rate of muscle protein synthesis is reduced
– changes in muscle fiber composition: loss of type II in both size and number after age 50

Body Composition
– lean tissue declines and fat increases
– 8 – 12% decrease in basal metabolic rate

Flexibility
– connective tissue becomes more rigid

These are some generally accepted changes that can be expected as we journey through our life. However, many exercise scientists currently claim that we can drastically slow the rate of decline by staying very active and in some cases implement higher intensity training! To be clear, this higher intensity/lower volume prescription is for individuals who are consistently active and have been given the green light by their doctor.
The good news is that we can reduce the rate of decline of our VO2, VO2 max and stroke volume by staying consistent and adding appropriate intensity changes to our weekly routine.
Additionally, never has it been more important than as we notice age-related changes to stay focused on our strength and flexibility.
A clean, nutritionally supportive diet is critical to the success of any healthy body.
Talk to your physician, other health care provider and/or personal trainer for more tips and guidance.
In closing, try thinking less about a chronological age and more about how you feel when you are active and engaged in the enjoyment of your life!

Happy Training,
Kim Agostino

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