Research from the University of Houston has shown that men and women become less physically fit with age and, crucially, that their lifestyle influences their fitness level. The 32-year study of more than 20,000 men and women aged 20–96 was published in the October 26 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine (2009; 169 , 1781–87). During the intervention, participants completed between two and 33 health examinations, which included nutrition, exercise and lifestyle education and a maximal Balke treadmill test. According to the results, fitness levels declined with age and with greater rapidity after age 45. Conversely, the study authors noted that “being active, keeping a normal BMI and not smoking were associated with substantially higher levels of cardiorespiratory fitness during the adult life span study.”
This information underscores the important role fitness professionals play in inspiring the population toward greater activity levels. It also highlights the need to focus much of that attention toward the older-adult population.