Lifelong exercisers still vibrant at 80

Marjie Gilliam / Cox Newspapers /

DAYTON, Ohio — The more physically fit we are, the more we can handle what life throws our way. A natural mood regulator and stress reliever, exercise helps increase overall physical strength and allows for maintaining a greater degree of independence as we age.

When it comes to endurance, people who exercise on a regular basis up to the age of 80 have the same aerobic capacity as those half their age, says a new study from Ball State University.

“New Records in Aerobic Power Among Octogenarian Lifelong Endurance Athletes,” a Ball State research project conducted in collaboration with several Swedish researchers, found that the longtime athletes in the study are enjoying vibrant and healthy lives. The study was recently published in the Journal of Applied Physiology.

“In this case, 80 is the new 40,” said the study’s lead author Scott Trappe, director of Ball State’s Human Performance Laboratory (HPL). “These athletes are not who we think of when we consider 80-year-olds because they are in fantastic shape. They are simply incredible, happy people who enjoy life and are living it to the fullest. They are still actively engaged in competitive events.”

The study also found the endurance athletes established new upper limits for aerobic power in men 80-91 years old, including a maximum oxygen uptake that was nearly twice that of untrained men their age.