Can Intensity Improve Your Fitness at 100 Years of Age?

Exploring Intensity

Can Intensity Improve Your Fitness at 100 Years of Age?

Gretchen Reynolds of the NYT recently published a story about a 105-year-old French cyclist named Robert Marchand. He just set the world record for miles cycled in one hour by someone his age or older: 14 miles. Marchand set the record on an indoor track, and he already held the record for those 100 years and older pedaling 17 miles a few years ago.

Exercise science researchers started studying Marchand a couple of years ago with a question: can you improve your fitness as you age, if you increase the intensity of your workouts? The best measurement for fitness is VO2 Max which measures the ability of your body to process oxygen, and that declines starting at around age 40 even if you remain physically fit.

Prior to being studied Marchand rode his bike at a leisurely pace every day. The researchers asked him to up the intensity one out of five days. On the high-intensity days Marchand would pedal his bike at 70-90 rpm which he described as a 15 on a scale of 1 to 20. After two years of training with this method, Marchand improved his VO2 Max by 13% and his pedaling power by 40%.

We have seen clients at Cardio High improve their fitness after age 40 by adding sprints on bikes and manual treadmills. Marchand clearly owns a great set of genes. But his diet does not seem like a tough one to follow: yogurt, cheese, soup, chicken and red wine (no mention of kale, spinach, carrots, blueberries, etc.).