Exercise is the Fountain of Youth
New research indicates that older people who engage in athletics and keep themselves physically fit can turn back the clock and beat aging to a surprising degree. Physically fit seniors were shown to have a “fitness age” that was as much as 20 years younger than their chronological age. Better-then-average cardiovascular fitness is linked to a longer lifespan.
By and large, it’s possible to estimate a person’s fitness age by plugging a few factors into an algorithm. If you know your waist size, body weight, and resting heart rate, you can plug that information into an online calculator, add your gender, and voila! You’ll get an estimate of your “fitness age”. Ideally, it will be lower than your chronological age, especially if you’re among the millions of aging American baby boomers.
Try it by visiting: www.worldfitnesslevel.org.
Athletes participating in the National Senior Games (informally called the Senior Olympics) in Minneapolis this summer had an average chronological age of 68. But participants who made use of the calculator were shown to have an average fitness age of 43. That’s a whopping 25-year difference, due solely to these folks’ participation in rigorous, regular exercise. The entrants with the most dramatic differences between chronological age and estimated fitness age tended to be athletes who participate in more vigorous forms of athletics, such as long distance running and swimming.
Previous research has shown that exercise in older age can delay some of the changes associated with aging and declining cardiovascular fitness, including rising blood cholesterol levels and blood pressure increases often associated with aging. "These findings suggest that improving cardiorespiratory fitness levels may delay the onset of [abnormal blood lipid levels,]” said Yong-Moon Mark Park, M.D., the lead author of the study.
"Age-related changes in cholesterol levels are usually unfavorable," said Xuemei Sui, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., assistant professor at the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina and an author of the study. "Our study sought to determine how cardiorespiratory fitness might modify the aging trajectory for lipid and lipoproteins in healthy men…Promoting this healthy lifestyle factor may also help to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease."
Yong-Moon Mark Park, Xuemei Sui, Junxiu Liu, Haiming Zhou, Peter F. Kokkinos, Carl J. Lavie, James W. Hardin, Steven N. Blair. The Effect of Cardiorespiratory Fitness on Age-Related Lipids and Lipoproteins. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 2015; 65 (19): 2091 DOI: 10.1016/j.jacc.2015.03.517