Yes, You Really Can Keep Up With the Younger Guys

People in their 60s and 70s may have to work harder than younger adults to perform the same physical activity, whether it’s a game of basketball or a walk around the block, but a fit body may narrow that gap, considerably so, says a newly published study.*

Comparing out-of-shape 60- and 70-year-olds with people in their 20s and 30s, scientists at the University of Washington found that the older folks were exercise “inefficient,” meaning, they had to use much more oxygen – about 20% more than the younger group-“ to walk at the same speed. As a result, the older crowd huffed and puffed – and got exhausted- while the younger crowd sailed along.

But staying in step with the 20- and 30-year-olds got a whole lot easier after the older subjects completed a six-month program of walking, jogging, or biking three times weekly. In fact, noted lead investigator Dr. Wayne C. Levy, age-related changes like decreased exercise efficiency were “reversed with exercise training.”

Dr. Levy and colleagues are not sure how much exercise is needed to keep our bodies efficiently pumping oxygen to muscles as we age, but they suspect that any type of regular aerobic activity, including walking, would have benefits.

Sit-ups will not shrink love handles. They can tighten muscles in your abdominal area but because they burn so few calories, they will not shrink its overall size. To burn off belly fat, you’ve got to burn more calories than you eat.

And the more we do – optimally, 10,000 steps (which adds up to around 4 to 5 miles daily) – the more benefits we gain, not only in terms of exercise efficiency but for overall good health and weight control as well.

Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 2006; 47: 1049.

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