Health + Wellness

Regular Running Combats Age-related Deterioration Of Walking Economy

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If you’re an avid runner and you’re in your 60s, you might just be burning oxygen at similar rates as a younger runner in his/her 20s.

“Running economy” is what scientists refer to as the rate of oxygen consumption covered during running. Walking performance typically deteriorates with advanced age, resulting in a 15 to 20 percent worse economy compared to younger adults.

A recent study conducted by Humboldt State University on 15 subjects aged over 65, found that individuals who maintain an active jogging habit through their senior years showed similar running economy as younger runners. Older runners also had 7 to 10 percent better walking economy compared to older walkers. This means that regular running as you age can help mitigate the age-related deterioration in rate of oxygen consumption during exercise, and keep your energy levels youthful as well.

The researchers also measured for differences in biomechanics among older runners and younger runners. While older runners did adjust their running techniques as they age, they still maintained youthful energy levels while exercising.

However, one thing to note is that older walkers were found to have similar walking economy as older sedentary adults, and 26 percent worse walking economy than younger adults. This suggests that walking for exercise has a minimal effect on age-related deterioration in walking economy.

Nevertheless, the main takeaway from this study is that running regularly can help maintain a youthful running economy well into your 60s. This adds even more reasons to stay active as you age – even if it means starting small through brisk walking.

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