Age and performance
Ageing is an ineluctable process coming from our cells oxidation. Paradoxically, the oxygen which is the basis of live, destroys us day after day.
In fact, our body produces in its functioning what it is called "free radicals" which are unstable molecules, responsible of cellular destructions.
The only way to limit the production of "free radicals", is to favor cellular activity through a healthy life (activity, food, etc.)
For the sport performances, the main consequences are the muscular and aerobic losses.
The only way to thwart this process is to practise regularly a physical activity.
Even an old high level sportsman, will become equivalent to a sedentary person if he stops all physical activity during several years.
Ageing and sedentarity decrease the muscular mass, quality and strength. From 30 to 60 years old, the muscular mass decreases more than 30%, about 1% by year. Into the muscular structure, the "fast" fibers are more affected and replaced by fat tissues.
With appropriate physical exercises, aged people are able to maintain their muscular strength or even to recover a lot. Further more, these exercises improve the solidity of the skeleton.
The capacity to consume the oxygen of the air decreases in the same proportions as muscular losses. Further more, if insufficiencies arise into the cardiovascular system, the muscular losses can be aggravated.
The marathon world records as a function of age (the following curve is smoothed) give a good indication about the evolution of aerobic losses.
Our aerobic potential, measured by VO2max, is unfortunately closely related to our age.
Under 15 ml/min/kg for a woman or 18 ml/min/kg for a man, we become bedridden. Although there is no biological study proving the existence of a ceiling, several statistical studies show that our life expectancy is capped at 115.7 years for woman and 114.1 for men (which makes exceptional, even suspect, some well-known longevity records).
Calculate your future VO2max and your life expectancy
Finally, it is important to keep in mind that physical aerobic exercises improve a lot of important immune and hormonal functions.
Nervous system is not spared because memory, mainly short-term memory, is affected. For the reasoning, the major effects are the difficulty to manage new situations with an excessive appeal to the past experience.
Physical exercise is a necessity. When a muscle does not work, it atrophies. At the opposite, when a muscle works, it stimulates a lot of biochemical processes responsible for our survival.
We are condemned to move for a better ageing !
However, before to start or restart a physical activity, it is important to analyse the cardiovascular system with a cardiologist. It is even fundamental for aged people and/or there were hereditary diseases.