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Running Over 60: Big Plus, Few Minuses

If you’re a runner pushing 60, there’s mostly good news from a new study comparing 51 strong runners ranging in age from 18 to 60 plus. The up side is that the body continues to use oxygen as efficiently as it did decades earlier. The bad news is that you’re probably running slower than you once did. This is due to loss of strength, muscle power and flexibility, according to University of New Hampshire researchers. The big difference in strength turned out to be in the upper body - particularly in the arms, which are used to help propel you when running uphill. The study found that upper body strength in the 60 plus runners was about half that of the younger ones, as was flexibility (it affects your stride) while muscle power, responsible for how fast strength is generated, was also lower. But the investigators said that the age-related deficits can be addressed with strength training and exercises called plyometrics, which involve skipping, jumping jacks and prancing with knees high. The study was published in the November issue of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

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Reader Comments (7)

I'm a 76-year-old man who started running in 1968 (not counting a little in college) when Kenneth Cooper published his Aerobics book, and continued for 24 years; switched to fast walking for 12 years but always felt it was never enough; returned to running in 2004; now run 3 to 6 miles almost every morning, but only on dirt trails, never pavement, which no one should run on. I am slower than I used to be so a while ago bought a set of Bowflex adjustable dumbbells and a bench to try to regain some of the muscle I lost while taking care of my late wife during her ten years of delicate health. I eat a very healthful diet, vegan except for wild Alaskan salmon and sardines. I also usually do fast hill walks with a friend twice a week.

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPriondragas

There are only a few seniors who can actually do that. Turning 55 and above is already not that easy for some physical exercise.

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKevin Weiss

Wow thats impressive!! Really appreciate your zest for running. Running i a true measure of independance.

January 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAbhishek Sinha

@Priondragas - that's amazing, so few people half your age even do half that much... re: the main article, not sure speed is of the essence ;)

January 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChiropractic Clinic

Running is a great hobby and awesome way to keep your health at bay. And no matter what age group you are in, if you can do it and if it's what's best for you, just DO IT! But do know your limits and make sure you check with your doc.

January 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLeucadia Chiro

Believe it or not, I have two knee replacements, and I "jog." I'm 65 and just started it in the last 2-3 years at the gym. I've been exercising for years, and one day, I just broke into a trot and loved it. I haven't run since I was a kid. I like jogging up hills at the park, but do worry about my knees, so I refrain from doing that too often and try to do it just at the gym on the treadmill. You actually get such a "high" when you do that, and now I realize why people is a great feeling!!

February 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarol, Finleyville, PA

Carol, I do Chi Running, which was developed by a man in San Francisco around 1999. It involves leaning forward slightly, as if running uphill, keeping the body straight, not curved forward. This results in landing on the balls of the feet and the toes, rather than on the heels, so the impact is much less. It's like barefoot running in that respect, and it has saved my knees. Running while keeping the body vertical, I can feel the impact of the foot strike come right up into my knees; leaning forward, I don't feel it there.
Check out

February 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPriondragas
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