Exercise: Fit for All Ages

May 1, 2005

My healthy 74-year-old patient exercises 30 minutes 3 times a week and 60 minutes twice a week at a rate of 3.5 to 3.8 miles per hour. He perspires considerably after 20 minutes without any other adverse effects and has done this for more than 30 years.

My healthy 74-year-old patient exercises 30 minutes 3 times a week and 60 minutes twice a week at a rate of 3.5 to 3.8 miles per hour. He perspires considerably after 20 minutes without any other adverse effects and has done this for more than 30 years. Is it time for him to change or slow down--or should he continue the same exercise regimen?

- Rudi Kirschner, MD
   Phoenix

When comparing oxygen transport as measured by maximum oxygen consumption (VO2 max), a fit 74-year-old is biologically similar to a man 30 years younger. Thus, the calendar is a meaningless biomarker. I would praise and encourage your patient. It is never too early or too late in life to exercise.

- Walter M. Bortz II, MD
   Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine
   Stanford University School of Medicine
   Palo Alto, Calif

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