I. “It’s never too late to get fit”
A study conducted at the University of Oslo found that men who began exercising in their 40s and 50s (as opposed to becoming more inactive, as is the norm) reduced their risk of stroke in later life by more than 50%. According to the researchers, stroke risk in this group looked more like that of men who stayed fit all through adulthood. And these gents did not take up ultra-marathoning or anything extreme: they simply began walking more, or cycling more. As one of the study’s authors told the UK Telegraph, “If you become fit or remain fit, there’s no difference. That’s a good message – if you’re 50 and not fit, over the next years you can become fit and lower your risk. It’s never too late to get fit. …But you can’t let yourself go because you lose the protection that you had. If you’re in good shape when you’re 50 you can’t just stop working out and float on what you have. You have to keep it up.” (Use it or lose it!)
II. It’s never too late to get even fitter (and faster)
Just came across a great story in the New York Times (from February 2017). At age 100, French amateur cyclist Robert Marchand held the record in the “100 years and older” age category for miles covered (14) in one hour of cycling. Then he took on a new training program for two years:
Under this program, about 80 percent of his weekly workouts were performed at an easy intensity, the equivalent of a 12 or less on a scale of 1 to 20, with 20 being almost unbearably strenuous according to Mr. Marchand’s judgment. He did not use a heart rate monitor. The other 20 percent of his workouts were performed at a difficult intensity of 15 or above on the same scale. For these, he was instructed to increase his pedaling frequency to between 70 and 90 revolutions per minute, compared to about 60 r.p.m. during the easy rides. (A cycling computer supplied this information.) The rides rarely lasted more than an hour.
At age 103, he broke his own record, covering almost 17 miles in one hour.
Earlier this year, at age 105, he pedaled more than 14 miles and again set an age-group record, this time in the newly invented “105 and older” category. But he was unhappy with his performance, and plans to try to break the record again next year.