How does age affect your run performance?

And old man jogging

When you are young, the physical ability to run improves with proper training and nutrition due to an increase in muscular power. 

This is because the tendons and ligaments become more elastic and the muscles become more efficient at generating power as they get bigger, stronger, and learn how to use oxygen more efficiently.

However, as you get older, you may start experiencing aches and pains due to wear and tear on the joints, muscles, ligaments, or arthritis, making it difficult for you to go running. 

To find out why this happens first we must understand the effects of aging on aerobic capacity and muscles.

How does aging affect aerobic capacity?

With aging, the aerobic capacity diminishes to a certain level. Aerobic capacity is the maximum oxygen consumption of an individual during incremental exercise. The amount of oxygen in the blood is expressed as a percentage of the total volume and depends on factors like age, gender, and fitness.

There are many factors that can affect aerobic capacities, such as age and gender.

Research has shown that aerobic capacity does have a significant decline with aging. There have also been some studies that show that an individual’s ability to maintain their aerobic capacity may be due to the genetic variations they have in their body.

The rate of decline is dependent on the individual factors in a person’s life. For example, people who do not exercise regularly will experience a faster decline in their aerobic capacity than those who exercise daily or weekly.

Muscle wasting also affects how aerobically fit an individual is because their body is not able to take advantage of all the oxygen available for use. In addition, lung function decreases with increasing age which reduces an individual’s ability to take in air to meet caloric demands.

How does aging affect muscles?

Aging can cause a number of changes in the muscles. Some of these changes are more common than others and some are influenced by lifestyle. For example, muscle strength decreases with age for both men and women, as do a range of motion, muscle size, bone density, and endurance.

Strength is one area where decline is inevitable with age for both men and women. This decline becomes more noticeable after the age of 65 years old when people start to experience sarcopenia (loss in skeletal muscle). 

Muscle strength declines due to less stimulation from the nervous system when it comes to using muscles that aren’t used regularly or those that have already been weakened.

The effects of aging on running speed and endurance

A person’s age can have an effect on their running performance. Younger runners tend to have a greater VO2max, which is the amount of oxygen that the body is able to use when exercising. They also tend to be less fatigued than older runners due to increased resistance in their muscles and cardiovascular system. 

The aerobic capacity of the heart and lungs decreases with aging, which can lead to muscle wasting and atrophy. This is due to the decrease in the number of red blood cells, elasticity in the lungs, and a general decrease in respiratory strength.

Aerobic capacity is a measure of how well your body can use oxygen during exercise. Decreases in aerobic capacity are linked to an increased risk for several chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, dementia, and stroke. 

Aging is associated with weaker muscles that can’t produce as much force or speed as before. These changes may also be attributed to decreased oxygen supply from lowered aerobic capacity.

There are benefits for both younger and older groups: younger runners will have increased flexibility with their joints while older runners will have more experience and motivation.

What are the best ways to maintain run performance as we age?

In order to maintain an optimal level of fitness with age, we must find the right balance between the two and exercise regularly.

Here are some strategies you can try out:

  • To start, there is the traditional aerobic exercise such as jogging and biking. However, if you have joint problems then it is best to avoid these types of exercises. Instead, you can do low-impact exercises such as brisk walking and swimming. These exercises still burn a lot of calories and promote muscle maintenance while staying low impact on the joints.
  • Strength training exercises that involve running instead of just walking or jogging (exercises like sprinting) will help make your muscles stronger and more efficient.
  • Stretching after you run will help in reducing soreness later on in the day – drinking plenty of water before, during, and after your workout will keep your body moving fluidly.
  • Wearing good shoes with proper arch support is important for preventing injury.
  • Maintaining a nutritious diet in senior years, such as eating more protein-rich food or taking supplements containing zinc and vitamin D, which helps with muscle growth and repair.

It is not impossible to be in shape even when you grow old. Exercise is one of the best ways to maintain one’s health and have a good quality of life in your later years. It also helps people manage their weight better which is an obvious plus for our health too!

Getting older is not the only factor that affects your performance when you are running. Maintaining proper nutrition, adequate exercise, sleep, and managing stress levels are equally important.

References

https://academic.oup.com/biomedgerontology/article/61/8/851/589346

https://bmcgenomics.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12864-017-4192-6

https://journals.lww.com/co-clinicalnutrition/Abstract/2004/07000/Muscle_tissue_changes_with_aging.9.aspx

https://dmsjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13098-017-0262-9

https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/Fulltext/2017/01000/The_Effect_of_Strength_Training_on_Performance.2.aspx

The Role of Vitamin D in the Aging Adult (JAGv2n2a1)

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.3402/pba.v5.25592

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