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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Easing age gap through regular exercise

10:58 AM


OLDER adults may have to work harder than young people to perform the same physical activity, but regular exercise may close that age gap, research findings suggests.

In a study comparing sedentary adults in their 60s and 70s with those in their 20s and 30s, researchers found that older men and women had to use much more oxygen to walk at the same speed as their younger counterparts.


But that was before they went through a six-month exercise programme. After taking up walking or jogging, biking and stretching, the senior study participants reversed their loss of exercise `efficiency'.

Exercise efficiency refers to how much energy the body expends to perform a given activity.

At the start of this study, older men and women used 20% more oxygen to walk at the same speed as a younger person, said Dr Wayne C. Levy of the University of Washington in Seattle, the study's senior author.

But six months of regular exercise - 90 minutes, three days per week - improved the older participants' exercise efficiency by 30%, versus only 2% among their younger counterparts. The findings are published in the current issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

It's well known that as people age, there is a decline in exercise capacity - how much work a person can do before becoming exhausted. But the new findings suggest this is not just a product of the ageing cardiovascular system being less able to send oxygen to working muscles.

The older body also needs more oxygen to perform the same work as a younger one - that is, exercise efficiency declines. But this decline appears to arise largely from inactivity, and may well be reversible. - Reuters

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