Study Proves that Regular Exercise lowers Fitness Age in Seniors

Anyone can tell you that if you want to be healthy, you should maintain a good diet and get plenty of exercise. The truth in that statement is especially accurate for senior citizens. According to a recent study that observed the ‘fitness age’ of 50+ individuals, those who exercise regularly were at least 20 years younger than their actual age.

Seniors Fitness Age Study

2015 National Senior Games – www.nsga.com

The study was led by the University of Maryland’s Dr. Pamela Peeke, who specializes in nutrition. At her side was Dr. Ulrik Wisloff, who serves on the Department of Circulation and Medical Imaging at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, and was personally responsible for developing the fitness calculator used in the research.

Gathering subjects for the study was easy enough. Where better to find a mass crowd of health-conscious seniors aged 50+ than the 2015 National Senior Games, hosted in Minnesota over the summer? Of the estimated 12,000 individuals that participated in the games, 5,000 of them agreed to take part in the fitness age study.

One of the most fantastic stories documented was that of Tony Diamond, an 86 year old retired navy captain who has upheld a regular workout schedule since a very young age. Presently, Diamond wakes up to an hour of fast walking every morning, followed by another hour of running. He also hits the gym at least three times a week to keep his muscles toned, and according to Dr. Wisloff’s fitness age calculator, it’s paid off tremendously.

“My current age is 86 years old and my fitness age is 44,” said Diamond after collecting 3 gold medals in the 2015 National Senior Games. “I think I have such a good number because I did a lot of exercise during my life. I’ve been exercising since I was a little boy.”

62 year old Helen White nearly cut her age in half as well, receiving a fitness age of 32. A basketball player and coach to a group of other senior women, White didn’t spend her entire life focusing on physical health like Mr. Diamond, though.

“It really wasn’t until I turned to 50 that I decided to become much more serious and focused about play, and just making sure it is daily part of my life,” she said.

Based on the overall results of the study, Dr. Peeke concluded that older individuals who are athletic in their daily lives qualified for a fitness age that is at least 20 years younger than their actual, chronological age.

Most surprising was the fact that participants in the study weren’t asked to be hooked up to wires and machines, running on treadmills for long periods of time to monitor their body’s physical response. Dr. Peeke explained the simplicity of the process, merely inputting a strain of relevant data.

“We ask you questions: your age, height, weight, how much you work out, your waist size, heart rate, blood pressure, and it goes on. Then you press a button, you find out what your actual fitness age is,” said Dr. Peeke.

“This kind of testing,” she continued, “an assessment of fitness age, is actually very valid and it helps us understand the benefits of being fit and healthy.” She also noted that anyone can use the fitness age calculator online for free.

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