We all have our preferences when it comes to modality of activity, even if for some that preference is no modality whatsoever! For many the preference of activity is very much down to how much it is going to benefit their health. As I’m sure you’re aware the decisions made throughout your life often dictate your health as you age. So what about your previous engagement in physical activity? What’s best when it comes to mediating mortality risk and ensuring long term health?
A recent study (Randers et al, 2014) took 33 men aged between 65 and 85 years and separated into three groups dependent on their previous experience with activity. Participants were split into 4 groups, a soccer trained group, an endurance trained group, a strength trained group and an untrained group. All groups displayed extensive experience with their modality of training most engaging in that activity throughout their entire lives, previous elite performers were involved. The study analysed numerous baseline measures including resting heart rate, blood pressure and lean body mass, known to correlate to cardiovascular diseases and independence. They also conducted several physical tests including a cycle test to exhaustion and they also analysed maximal oxygen uptake, known to correlate to respiratory fitness and exercise capacity.
Interestingly soccer trained individuals displayed significantly lower heart rate and greater time to exhaustion than untrained and strength trained counterparts. Whilst the endurance trained, soccer trained and strength trained groups all demonstrated significantly lower body fat than the untrained group.
However the endurance trained individuals came out on top, demonstrating the greatest performance in measures associated with numerous long term conditions including lower resting heart rate and aerobic power.
Although the study group was relatively small this provides insight into potential implications of training choices. Whilst endurance training may provide benefit over other modalities one thing is for sure, engaging in any physical activity is better than none at all! Let’s not forget that this study did not analyse numerous other variables including potential musculoskeletal health conditions, psychological health and social engagement. There’s more to health than cardiovascular risk, but it’s not a bad place to start.
Jack Barton (Researcher, Rescon)
Randers, M. B., Andersen, J. L., Petersen, J., Sundstrup, E., Jakobsen, M. D. et al. (2014). Exercise performance and cardiovascular health variables in 70-year-old male soccer players compared to endurance-trained, strength-trained and untrained age-matched men. Journal of sports sciences, (ahead-of-print), 1-9.