Old Runners Breathe As Easily As Young Runners
For 60-year-old runners, there’s good news and bad news from a recent study by researchers at the University of New Hampshire. First, the good news: when it comes to running economy – how efficiently the body uses oxygen at a certain pace – older runners perform just was well as younger runners. The bad news is that despite the constancy of economy, the general loss of strength of older runners makes running “seem harder,” very probably because it is harder. A University of New Hampshire news release reports on the research, which placed competitive male and female distance runners into three age groups: young (18-39 years), master (40-59 years) and older (60 years and over). In addition to running economy, the researchers measured strength, power, and flexibility –three factors that might explain how running performance declines with age. Yes, they found that older runners fared significantly worse than young-uns on all three, which would explain the “seeming harder” conclusion. Strength, in particular upper-body strength, is necessary to propel runners uphill and to hasten leg turnover.. Muscle power – how fast that strength is generated – governs the speed at which runners can change speed or direction or run up hills. And flexibility, measured in this study with a sit-and-reach test to assess hamstring and lower back flexibility, correlates with stride length and step frequency. Wait, there’s more good news, kind of: the muscle loss, the researchers point out, can be minimized with strength training. Read more from the University of New Hampshire.