The incredible unaging triathlete


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Here’s a pretty graphic illustration, from a recent paper by Dr. Vonda Wright and her colleagues (hat tip to Laura McIntyre for the forward), of the importance of lifelong physical activity:

It’s from a new study freely available at The Physician and Sportsmedicine that took detailed measurements of 40 masters athletes between the ages of 40 and 81, and found a surprising lack of age-related muscle loss:

This study contradicts the common observation that muscle mass and strength decline as a function of aging alone. Instead, these declines may signal the effect of chronic disuse rather than muscle aging.


83 Replies to “The incredible unaging triathlete”

  1. The picture clearly shows that no matter how much you exercise, scientists will find a way to catch you and cut your legs into thin slices!

  2. @Martin: That’s why training for running is so crucial: you can outrun the scientists for a little longer…

  3. I don’t find this surprising. A few years ago while attending a Masters event I had my bone density tested. I was told that I had the density of a 23yr old weight lifter, not bad for a 42yr old cyclist!!!

  4. Not sure about my muscles but I am strong for my age, lift weights, train swim/bike/run, do sprint triathlons (slowly) and do yoga twice a week. I had a mastectomy and radiation last Dec. and am on arimadex, an estrogen suppressing medicine which can cause bone loss. I just had a bone density test and it came out normal and amazed the doctor. I have been an athlete since my late 40’s, a marathoner and then at age 72 began doing triathlons. I did the 100 mile Lake Tahoe ride in the cold rain last June and then summer triathlons. I say all this, not to brag, but to enforce what I believe is the reason for my quick recovery and tremendous sense of well being no matter what. I am facing some minor surgery, not cancer related, but am confident that I will get back in shape and have signed up for the Pan MASS Challenge, the Burlington Nationals and other events. The advantage of being so old is that though I am very slow I can place and it is such fun to be among all these great younger athletes.

  5. @Lucy: Thanks very much for your comment — very inspirational! I have to review each comment individually before it’s posted, so something there’s a delay before I see and approve new comments.

  6. Thanks for including my comment. I neglected to say that I will be 79 on February 9th. My friend and mentor Andy Schurding keeps me going. He said once , “Wouldn’t it be fun to do a tri when you are 80 so i think I’ll keep moving.

  7. Thank you all for a very interesting information and comments. I am sure that many would agree that the “move or lose it” truism message is supported to some degree here. What is left is the motivation to do so.
    That’s where the big or holistic picture of the individuals social and physical environment comes into play. There in lies the Public Health challenge.

  8. Wow…….if this is a true reflection of “if you don’t use it – you lose it” the advice I’ve been giving my customers for years……here’s proof…..thank for posting…will print off and frame me thinks!!

  9. research also has shown that bone density is increased with weight training,among 50-70 year olds on a weight training program they increased muscle and bone density as well as improving their balance.

  10. Congratulations on fantastic site and articles,muscle mass retention relates directly to resistance or weight shifted consistently.I am sixty regularly work out 5or 6 times a week and shift a total of 10,000KG per work out not to particular about routines just mix it around have followed this way of exercise for years now , I think I am holding on to muscle mass. in my opinion only, follow paleo style of eating strictly ,never felt better no pills of any kind .

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