A new study published by the Journal of Applied Physiology in August entitled “Cardiovascular and Skeletal Muscle Health with Lifelong Exercise” done by Ball State University (Indiana USA), had some surprising conclusions about the effects of lifelong exercise. The researchers looked at 3 groups; the lifelong aerobic exerciser (LLE), old healthy non-exercisers (OHNE) and young exercisers (YE). They compared indicators of aerobic capacities such as the level of aerobic enzymes and muscle capillarization between the different groups. And what they found surprised them.
The muscle of the older lifelong exercisers (LLE) had similar levels of capillarization and aerobic enzyme as the young exercisers (YE). The finding is amazing – the study found that the LLE group has the cardiovascular health profile of 30-years younger on average. When compared to the old healthy non-exercisers (OHNE) group, the LLE fared much better by up to 90%. The study found that for “skeletal muscles, 50+ years of aerobic exercise fully preserved capillarization and aerobic enzymes, regardless of intensity”. Till now, the commonly accepted belief that ageing will result in declining muscular and cardiovascular health may not be true but may be delayed by the benefits of lifelong exercise.
However, the study did not look at whether starting an exercise program later in life will have similar benefits as the conclusion is drawn from studying the groups at only one point in their lives. But for those young exercisers (YE) today – rejoice – this is strong evidence that exercise is, in part, your fountain of youth.