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Longevity and Cardiovascular Exercise

healthy lifestyle Sep 25, 2019


“Low cardiorespiratory fitness is a sounder predictor of death then risk factors such as hypertension, smoking, and Diabetes.”  Franklin Booth (2012)


Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) is the #1 cause of death

31% of all deaths globally *CVD, Oxidative stress, Inflammation, & Aging: WHO (2016)


Now honestly, you will die of something.  And, this is the most common something.  BUT, there is something that you can do to improve your odds and prolong this outcome.  (no guarantees in life of course, but better odds). 


Pioneer Study: Shephard, R. J. (2008).  Maximal oxygen intake and independence in old age.  British Journal of Sport Medicine Online First, April 10, 2008, pp 1-19. (A Review of 30 studies (since 1990) with male and female subjects age 64 years of older)


The common measure for cardiovascular ability and strength is the maximum volume of oxygen usage per minute (VO2 max).  Measured in (ml/kg/min).  For Men VO2 max tends to drop 5 ml/kg/min each decade after 20 (starting from 45 ml/kg/min).  For Women VO2 max tends to drop 5 ml/kg/min each decade after 35 (starting from 38 ml/kg/min). 


So basically,  we all lose that 5 points on our score but women start later and the starting point is not as high.  The study authors stated that this decline was largely due to inactivity and increase in body fat.  NOT OLD AGE!!!


Once VO2max drops below 18 (men) 15 (women), a person loses functional independence.


This means it’s too much effort to feed and clean yourself. 


What can we do?


Moderate intensity aerobic activity 3-5x per week, 30 min/day can slow the decline and gain back VO2 max points. 


8-10 weeks – VO2 max improves 12.9%

By 24 – 52 weeks – VO2 max improves 16.9%


***Higher Intensities = Greater Gains

So really huffing and puffing (sucking wind) at 75-85% Heart Rate Max = 25% increase in VO2 max.  This means an increase of 6 ml/kg/min. 


*Equivalent to gaining back 12 years of vigor!!!*


I don’t know about you but I found this highly motivating.  And even more so as I age.  If you are concerned about doing this high of intensity,  please start in a professional fitness facility so that you are not alone while hitting the higher intensities. 


It is pretty exciting to think that we could have so much say in our functional abilities, health, and independence as we age.  But you do have to do the work and that is often what makes this so rare to see in the people around you.  Many are not willing to do the work often enough or intense enough to see this change. 


I hope this encourages you to be a rare breed and defy your age. 


P.S. a rough calculation of Heart Rate Max is 220 – your age

Ex. 65 years old = 220 – 65 = 155

So that range for high intensity would be 116 – 132 (75%-85%)


About the Author:

Jeremy “the tall trainer” Biernat is a Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Strength Coach, has his Bachelors in Exercise Science, and enjoys writing, speaking, and inspiring people online and in person. See his new book!  More importantly he is a husband, father, and follower of God. His practice is in upstate NY (Canandaigua) where he works with people in one on one and group sessions to make awesome changes in their lives. He doesn’t do everything perfect, cries in movies, and would love to hear from you. You can contact Jeremy by commenting to this post, emailing [email protected], or calling 1(800)380-7047. 

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