Nov 30th, 2010
By Mike Minium
A photo of Olga Kotelko long-jumping, from the NY Times
(Thanks to Papa Brad and Leka for turning me on to this article.)
It seems that more and more evidence is accumulating regarding the benefits of high-intensity (or at least higher-intensity) exercise well into the golden years of life. It appears that a fairly strong case can be made for exercise improving one’s quality of life, and there may even be a case mounting for high-intensity exercise extending your life (although certainly not as strong a case at this point, since studies on the interaction of exercise and life extension are still a fairly new area for examination).
In the recent NY Times article "The Incredible Flying Nonagenarian" (see link at end of post), Olga Kotelko is profiled. Olga, a masters track athlete who currently holds 23 world records, 17 of them in her current age category (90-94 years old), doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.
The article is a fascinating portrait of Olga, but is also a nice discussion of high-intensity exercise and its benefits, as well as some discussion of what’s going on at a cellular level when it comes to aging. The author of the article even points out that some scientists now view aging as a mitochondrial disease.
My favorite tangential excerpt had to do with a researcher’s findings on NASA and its astronauts, their loss of muscle while in space (a well-documented occurrence in space travel), and their suboptimal exercise program. They were using a program centered around treadmills, a stationary bike, and a resistance machine.
The researcher’s recommendation: "Trappe concluded the regime wasn’t nearly hard-core enough. His prescription for NASA: heavier loads and explosive movements. ‘It’s pretty clear that intensity wins up there,’ he says."
The article is a great read, albeit a long one, so grab a cup of coffee and your bifocals and read up: www.nytimes.com/2010/11/28/magazine/28athletes-t.html