The muscles of older women and men who have exercised regularly for decades were considered indistinguishable in many respects from those of much younger healthy people in a study group of active septuagenarians published in the Journal of Applied Physiology.
Older active participants also had much higher aerobic capacities than most people of their own age group, the study results showed that they are biologically about 30 years younger than their chronological ages, according to the researchers.
Every second of every day the body ages, which causes many to become deeply interested in what can be expected as the body ages in the subsequent years and decades to follow. Statistics and observations suggest that the elderly experience disease, fragility and dependence, but it has not been established by science whether and to what extent this physical decline is inevitable with age or if it is partly a byproduct of the modern and perhaps changeable lifestyle.
Many studies suggest that physical activity can change the way we age. It is known recently that older athletes have healthier brains, immune systems, hearts, and muscles than sedentary people of the same age; but many of these studies have focused on competitive athletes, not those who exercise recreationally and few have included women.
Ball State University looked at a distinct set of older men and women who began exercising during the booms of hobbyists in the 1970s, who either kept the hobby for the next 50 years or never competed ever since. 28 participants were recruited including 7 physically active women. The age was for elderly people who did not exercise during childhood and a group of people in their twenties was also recruited.
All subjects were laboratory-tested for aerobic capacity, and the number of capillaries and levels of certain enzymes in muscle were measured using tissue samples; High numbers for each indicate muscle health.
The cardiovascular system and muscles were focused on how they are believed to decrease with age. A hierarchical pattern in the differences between groups was expected to be seen. Younger individuals were expected to have the most robust muscles and aerobic capacities, with lifelong exercises being somewhat weaker in both cases, and older non-practitioners becoming worse. However, those results were not what they found.
Older exercise muscles have been found to resemble those of young people with many capillaries and similar enzymes and much more than in sedentary older muscles. Active elderly individuals had smaller aerobic capacities than the younger ones, but their abilities were 40% larger than their sedentary peers.
When the aerobic capacities of the most active subjects were compared to the "normal" abilities established at different ages, the researchers calculated that the older active group had cardiovascular health in those 30 years younger than them.
Joint findings on cardiovascular and muscular health in active elderly suggest that what is considered normal-related physical deterioration may not be normal or unavoidable; and this exercise can help create a pool of good health at younger ages, which may allow us to delay or avoid physical frailty at more advanced ages.
As this study was cross-sectional, highlighting only a single moment in the participants' lives, it is not possible to state whether exercise habits directly caused health differences if genes, diet or other lifestyle factors contributed. In addition, muscle mass and other important health measures have not been examined, or if you can start exercising later and have the same benefits; however, the team plans to investigate some of these issues in future studies.