A growing number of seniors are embracing competitive long-distance running—causing some experts to question conventional wisdom about exercise and its effects on older bodies.
Last year The Atlantic published “Running Into Old Age,” an article which profiled some inspirational people in their 60s and beyond who are completing marathons and triathlons. A lot of them were training harder than they ever had in their lives—and some felt their athletic ability was improving with age.
Peaking in one’s 60s is unusual, however; muscle strength gradually begins to deteriorate around age 35. At 60, that gradual decline becomes much steeper. Only a third of Americans over 65 are considered physically active. (*20% of adults do not get the recommended amount of exercise each week)
Be that as it may, more than 50% of men and more than 40% of women who cross marathon finishing lines are over the age of 40. This represents a substantial demographic shift; in times gone by, the majority of finishers were younger competitors. This attests to medical and cultural advances in recent years, which have enabled seniors to live healthier lifestyles for longer.
Older runners have more to gain than just a medal:
Though exercise cannot reverse the aging process, it can reduce the severity of natural decline, leading to a longer and perhaps better life.
*CDC 80% of American Adults Don't get regular exercise. CDC: 80 percent of American adults don't get recommended exercise - CBS News May 12, 2013