Sunday, May 26, 2013

How You Can Be 40 Years Old At 80

After reading my previous post, you probably think Ed Whitlock is a really great runner (and so do I), but please read on. I will show you a few more older (average age of 81) and yet fitter lifelong Nordic skiers published in the Applied Journal of Physiology last year.

In the study, this group of 9 skiers were compared to 6 remarkably healthy men of the same age but were not doing any exercises. In several key tests, including VO2 max and skeletal muscle health, the skiers scored more than 50% higher than the men who did not exercise.

The authors reported that the VO2 max recorded in this group of skiers is believed to be the highest recorded in humans above 80 years old and what's more; their results were comparable to non endurance trained men 40 years younger. This is definitely associated with lower risk for disability and mortality.

So after reading this far, you must be wondering how you can emulate them.

Well here's how they did it. On average, they've been training about 8 hours a week for the last 50 years. They exercised 4 to 6 days a week and never missed more than 6 months of continuous training at any one point. One of these skiers, who is 91 years old, won 2 gold medals at the winter Olympics. (Using his test results, this 91 year old would run a 4:10 hrs marathon -better than Ed).

Seems like a daunting task if you want to live longer and be healthier?

Well,  like I wrote last week, if you're not yet 81, keep exercising. If you're 81, keep going. 8 hours of exercise a week is definitely manageable, you just need to be consistent.

Email me if you want a copy of the article.


Trappe S, Haynes E et al (2012). New Records In Aerobic Power Among Octogenarian Lifelong Endurance athletes. J App Physiology. 114: 3-10.

*Picture by Anders Ljungberg from

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