If you’ve ever thought that it was too late to start exercising, too late to get more strength and/or fitness as you get older think again.
A new study from the Mayo Clinic, led by Kirsten Coffman, has found that if Silver Greys want to start even a vigorous exercise regime, there's a good chance their lungs will be able to keep up with the pace.
Researchers assessed younger and older adults to determine their lungs' capacity to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide (lung-diffusing capacity) during physical activity. This exchange between the lungs and blood delivers oxygen throughout the body, but typically decreases with age.
The researchers divined their subjects into four groups. There were two groups of younger adults with an average age of 27, one with normal fitness levels and one the second group had adults with a high level of fitness, and two groups of older adults; one group with an average age of 69 with normal fitness levels, and a second group, average age 65, with high fitness levels.
The study volunteers did increasingly difficult workouts on a stationary bicycle, being tested at rest and at 25%, 50%, 75% and 90% of their maximum lung capacity. As the study volunteers exercised, researchers measured their lung-diffusing capacity.
The researchers thought both older groups, especially the older highly fit volunteers, would have impaired lung function versus the younger groups. But the increase in lung-diffusing capacity wasn't limited in any of the four volunteer groups.
These findings suggest that overall function of the lung's circulation doesn't become limited during vigorous exercise, no matter what your age or fitness level, the researchers said. And, that seems to be true even though negative age-related changes in pulmonary circulation do occur.
You can read more about the research here