Great News for Older Athletes: Marathon Times Do Not Drop Before Fifty
Posted Aug 26 2008 4:03pm
You should be able to compete effectively in sports that require endurance well into your later years. Researchers at the German Sports University in Cologne, Germany analyzed competitive marathon times and showed that trained men and women did not have a significant drop in their race times until they reached their fiftieth birthdays ( International Journal of Sports Medicine , Volume 28, 2007). Average marathon and half-marathon times were virtually identical for age groups from 20 to 49 years. Furthermore, the drop in performance for the 50- to 69-year-old subjects was only in the range of 2.6 percent to 4.4 percent for each decade. As expected, women's times for each age group were slower than the men's times by about 10 percent for the marathon and 13 percent for the half-marathon.
These results show that most older athletes are able to maintain a high degree of physical fitness and suggest that most infirmity with aging is caused by lack of exercise, rather than just by the passage of years. If you exercise regularly, expect to be able to be stronger, faster and better coordinated than your peers who do not exercise. More on recovery times in older exercisers; fitness newsletter