Cardio Health Decline Vs Quantity Of Coaching – BionicOldGuy

It’s normally acknowledged that most cardio capability (VO2Max) declines with age at a charge of about 10% per decade in sedentary folks, however that those that proceed to do health coaching will solely lose this capability at about 5% per decade. A typical examine upon which this rule of thumb is predicated is ref. 1. This is without doubt one of the causes for the maxim “use it or lose it”. It seems to be “actually use it so that you lose it extra slowly”. But it surely’s essential as a result of the distinction between 5% and 10% is big for high quality of life. Actions of day by day residing like with the ability to go up stairs turn into very tough or not possible if VO2Max goes under about 20. This may occur by the point you might be about 70 or 80 if sedentary, however might be delayed till greater than 100 years of age when you hold coaching.

One other essential issue is that it has been proven that cardio capability might be regained considerably over a couple of months of coaching in older individuals who have beforehand been sedentary (Ref 2). So when you get to a sure age, and notice you’re slowing down (“Why am I beginning to get winded strolling over to the mailbox?”), you’ll be able to readily flip the clock again a couple of many years, fitness-wise, by getting critical about coaching to get in form.

However a 2022 meta-analysis [2] regarded on the knowledge from a variety of earlier research to reexamine this matter. I discovered of this from Alex Hutchinson’s “Sweat Science” in Outdoors Journal (there could also be a pay wall on the hyperlink however they normally enable you a couple of free peeks at articles). An important discovering is that even critical athletes who proceed coaching, have a tendency to scale back their coaching quantity (variety of hours per week) over time. Amongst those that sustain their quantity, the speed of loss in VO2Max is even smaller, extra like 2.5% per decade. Alex identified that coach Alan Couzens, based mostly on knowledge from his personal athletes, goes additional to counsel {that a} decline in health could also be averted completely if we enhance our coaching quantity as we age. Coach Couzens got here up with the rule of thumb that now we have to coach our age, in hours, every month, to attain this. So when you find yourself 80 you simply have to coach 80 hours per thirty days, or 20 hours every week. It is a lot, clearly, and properly past the 150 minutes (2 1/2 hours) every week of coaching usually really useful by well being authorities.

However this may occasionally really be possible for a few of us who’re retired and for whom health is our interest. By coincidence, I presently do practice for about 2 1/2 hours per day on common, as a result of I get pleasure from it, which precisely meets Couzens’ rule. If I simply bump it up a bit every year, and by the point I’m 80 I do about 3 hours per day, does that imply I’ll lose no health in any respect? I’ll be excited to search out out 10 years from now.

All of this has oversimplified the difficulty by solely contemplating coaching quantity and never depth. Varied strategies exist for bettering VO2MAX considerably with decrease quantity and better depth coaching. In all probability probably the most well-known is the Tabata protocol, which takes solely 4 minutes whole however includes 8 rounds of 20 seconds of sprinting with solely 10 seconds of restoration in between. Time-efficient, however very robust! I’d speculate that those that practice with significantly much less quantity, however hold their depth excessive sufficient, might additionally struggle off the decline in health with age fairly properly. I’ve additionally seen the alternative impact. There are cyclists within the membership I journey with which have stored their coaching quantity fairly excessive for many years, however their depth has decreased over time (they’ve both gotten slower or are doing fewer climbs). So I believe retaining quantity excessive and persevering with to do some high-intensity work are each essential to stop getting slower.

What about for these of us for which health is not a interest and should not notably excited on the prospect of coaching for hours per day? I’d say simply attempt to get the general public well being suggestion of two 1/2 hours per week of exercise. And throw in some higher-intensity stuff like strolling up stairs or biking up hills no less than as soon as every week (different points of health like resistance coaching and steadiness coaching are additionally essential). Your health might decline some over time, however lots lower than for a sedentary particular person, and also you’ll nonetheless have the ability to do actions of day by day residing at 100. Not a foul outcome.


  1. Rogers, M, et al, “Decline in VO2max with ageing in grasp athletes and sedentary males”, J Appl Physiol, 1990
  2. Burtscher, J, et al, “The Affect of Coaching on the Lack of Cardiorespiratory Health in Growing older Masters Endurance Athletes”, Int J Environ Res Public Well being, 2022

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