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Elderly Gain Most from Exercise

Starting exercise late in life has big gains


Updated April 30, 2011

The Journal of the American College of Cardiology published the results of a study that compared the benefits of exercise in older and young 'coach potatoes.' There results are very encouraging for older people who've been inactive.

The researchers found that with moderate increases in exercise the elderly make faster improvements in exercise efficiency than the young.

The study followed a group of sedentary 20-33 years olds and a group of sedentary 65-79 year olds. All were non-exercisers. For 6 months they had the groups walk or jog 30 minutes, bicycle 30 minutes and stretch 30 minutes three times per week.

Measurements of exercise efficiency (how much energy a person could put out compared to how much energy was used) were taken before, during and after the study.

After 6 months, the elderly group increased their energy efficiency by thirty percent. The younger group only increased their exercise efficiency by two percent.

The researchers comment that a lot of the changes seen with aging may be due to lower fitness levels in the sedentary elderly as compared to the sedentary young and these changes may in large part be due to inactivity. They also note that the elderly deteriorate faster with inactivity than the young.

Exercise training reduces this deterioration and helps the elderly avoid many of the deficits that are common with age.

Reference: Journal of the American College of Cardiology, March, 2006.

Last Review Date: january, 2007

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