50 Might Be the Perfect Time to Start Running

Exploring Intensity

50 Might Be the Perfect Time to Start Running

Lots of Cardio High clients ran fast times at the recent Paddy’s 3 mile run in West Newton. Most of the clients were not quite 50 years old, though some of us cracked that milestone. By the time we hit 50 years, we might think it’s time to back off the miles. Right? Well, according to a new study that looks at how our bodies age when intense exercise is added into the equation.

Researchers looked at the records of 150 so-called masters runners, who are in their 60s or older, and checked to see when they began their running careers. They separated them into two groups: those who started running pretty young, and those who started at 50+ years. Then they gathered data on 59 older people who were inactive. And what they found was very surprising. From this article:

The runners’ finishing times barely differed, whether they had been training for 30 years or fewer than 10. Both groups of runners also showed about 12 percent greater muscle mass in their legs than the inactive control group and about 17 percent less body fat.

Now they turned to this existing trove of data to look into whether it mattered, for health and performance, when athletes started training. The scientists focused on older distance runners for whom they already had extensive data about body composition, including their bone densities, muscle mass and body-fat percentages, as well as answers to lengthy questionnaires detailing how often and intensely the athletes had trained in every decade of their lives, beginning at the age of 18.

The records also tracked each runner’s times and placings in major races from the past two years. The runners had competed in a variety of distances, from the 800 meters to the marathon.

The scientists now gathered records for 150 of these masters runners and divided them into two groups, depending on when the athletes had begun training. One group, the early starters (mostly men), had been racing throughout adulthood, having often begun running as teenagers.

 -Shane M.