More older Americans are exercising regularly than ever. Officials with Running USA say seniors represent the fastest-growing segment of the sport’s participants.
The 42K marathon is hard enough for the energetic young people and for the older runners, they face bigger obstacles. Dr. Alexis Chiang Colvin, a sports-medicine expert at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, says aging affects every system the body uses in long-distance running.
An elderly heart doesn’t pump as fast or as hard, so oxygen — the body’s gasoline — doesn’t circulate as efficiently. An average 60-year-old pumps 20% less oxygenated blood than a 20-year-old, Dr. Colvin says. Like all human tissue, the lungs become stiffer and less expansive. Muscles atrophy(reduction) at an increasing rate and ligaments and tendons grow brittle making injuries far more likely. Muscle strength generally peaks at 30. After 70, it declines 30% per decade.
But I believe seniors who desire to continue running should not be discouraged by this obstacles. There are a good number of inspiring runners at prime age who finish marathons with impressive times.
The secret to running at old age is to remember this Russian quote, “May your dream be equal to your ability” if you must run push your body to it’s ability but not beyond it.