Study reveals how those who remain physically active after 60 maintain metabolism of people in their 20s. And it just takes a while to gain access to the greatest benefits.
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If you are a frequent runner and are over 65, chances are you are burning oxygen at a rate equal to that of an athlete of 20.
This is the conclusion of a University of Colorado (United States) study of 15 young volunteers and 15 over 60 volunteers.
Research focused on effort saving is helping to define the importance of regular exercise on health - especially among the elderly.
Earlier studies had indicated that the effort economy worsens as people get older from weakened muscles.
However, these surveys only investigated people over 61 years of age.
Now scientists have decided to look at the effects of physical activity on a slightly older group, around age 65.
Researchers have found that individuals who keep a jogging habit active spend almost the same amount of metabolic energy as a youngster.
But what about those who don't run?
Why do sedentary people face such a metabolic cost to perform their movements?
This is because the muscles become less efficient.
At the time of the test, each participant had a history of running at least 30 minutes three times a week for the previous six months.
The researchers found that despite differences in biomechanics between the two age groups, older runners consumed metabolic energy at a rate similar to that of young runners, even at accelerated speeds.
In-depth studies are needed to determine if other exercise options can have the same effect on increasing muscle efficiency.
And if a sedentary individual can reap the same metabolic benefit if they decide to become more active.
"There is good evidence that it is never too late to exercise," said study author Dr. Justus Ortega.
"The question is what types of exercise are right for your body," he added.
The study was published in the journalMedicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.