Secret to Youth – Keep Moving

New research out of the U.K. The British Journal of Sports Medicine published a research review which states that vigorous walking for about an hour a day, 5 days a week, can boost your maximal oxygen intake by as much as 25% in 3 months.

That is huge! Enough to turn back the clock on 12 years of aging. Enough to give seniors another 10-12 years of independence.

The head author, Roy Shephard, MD, PHD, of the University of Toronto, focused the research showing the relationship between aerobic activity, aging and maximal oxygen intake or VO2max.

Oxygen intake has been used for years to determine fitness.  It measures your body’s ability to consume oxygen when you’re exercising your hardest.  How well you do depends on how well your heart pumps the blood which carries the oxygen to your muscles and the ability of your muscles to use that oxygen. The higher your VO2max the better your body can perform over extended periods of activity.

VO2max is usually expressed in milliliters of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute – ml/ (kg.min), the higher the number the better your body can perform over an extended period of activity.  For this post I’m using the number + ml – ex VO2max at 50ml.

For example, marathon runners measure their VO2max at 80ml and above. An average man age 40 might score 35-40ml and women average about 5 points below that.

The bad news is that as we get older, we lose about 5ml in VO2max per decade. As our VO2max drops our ability to be active without getting tired also drops.  Once our VO2max is below 18ml for men and 15ml for women, we’re going to need people to help us make it through the day.

The GOOD NEWS is that aerobic exercise – walking- can slow down the loss and even REVERSE the loss. The longer you keep exercising the more you increase your body’s ability to take in and use oxygen. The studies show that if you increase your oxygen intake 6ml that’s like giving yourself 12 more years of youth because instead of backsliding 5 points you’ve increased your VO2 max by 6 points.

Dr. Shephard reasoned that aerobic fitness is likely to extend independence because if you’re active, you’re less likely to be obese, have osteoporosis and heart disease or even diabetes.

Keeping active is my answer to feeling energetic. I have no doubt about that.

If you have any questions about starting an aerobic program, visit your doctor. If you have any chronic conditions, ask your physician the best way to start a program.  I can’t imagine anyone telling you not to start… but it may be a question of how much and how fast.

Just do it!

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