Lifelong Exercise and Aging: A Conversation with Scott Trappe

Recent research provides important insights related to lifelong exercisers and the preservation of fitness, especially VO2 max, through life.

Lifelong Exercise and Aging: A Conversation with Scott Trappe

Our latest podcast and video (for premium subscribers) is a discussion with Scott Trappe, a professor at Ball State University who has done extensive work on lifelong exercise and its impact on aging, fitness, and VO2 max.

A summary post follows, and the video is embedded for premium subscribers. A preview has gone out on our free podcast feed, and paid subscribers can check their private feed for the full episode.

Some quick links first:


What if there was a life insurance policy that aids in improving the quality of life and combats the effects of aging? That policy is regular exercise. Recent studies reveal the significant impact it has on the aging process, in particular for those who maintain rigorous exercise routines throughout their lifetime, the so-called "lifelong exercisers."

Research by Scott Trappe, a professor at the Human Performance Laboratory at Ball State University and the facility's director, provides vital insights on this topic.

Lifelong Exercise: A Historical Perspective

The Human Performance Laboratory has a rich history dating back to the mid-1960s. Over the years, they've collected biospecimen information from different populations, helping reveal the impacts of various types of exercise. A significant impetus for Trappe's research was encountering aging runners who had been tested in the 1960s and 70s and were retested 25 years later. This exposure to the long-term impacts of exercise sparked Trappe's interest in the relationship between lifelong exercise and aging.

Aging, Exercise and Lifelong Benefits

In more recent studies, Trappe and his team focused on octogenarians who had not exercised regularly. After three months of supervised training, researchers noted the subjects' overall health improvements. Further studies on an active comparator group of lifelong skiers revealed even more exciting results. Despite their age, they showed remarkable aerobic capacity and agility. This led Trappe to believe that incorporating regular training into your lifestyle, regardless of age, could stave off age-related physical decline.

A Science-Backed Insurance Policy: Regular Exercise

Through their consistent training and active lifestyles, lifelong exercisers have built a fitness "savings account," insuring them against unexpected health issues related to aging. The benefits aren't just restricted to athletes; you don't need to be a champion to reap the benefits of lifelong exercise. Everyone, regardless of sporting proficiency, can gain from maintaining a regular exercise regimen.

The Role of Exercise in Maximising Biological Potential

Trappe argues that the full potential of regular exercise is still being discovered. In fact, he finds it surprising how far some aging athletes are pushing what we thought were the boundaries of human endurance. He also mentions ongoing research by the National Institutes of Health aimed at understanding the molecular underpinnings of exercise benefits across age groups, which he believes is essential to fully comprehend how exercise impacts metabolism and overall health.


Scott Trappe emphasizes that it's never too late to start exercising. Even at 80, the human body remains receptive to the beneficial effects of regular exercise. While we each have our genetic limits, research suggests that those limits might be higher than we previously thought if we maintain an active, exercise-oriented lifestyle. And while high-intensity training sessions can foster improvements, consistency truly is key. This new research continues to hold promise for the future, motivating a new generation to lace up their running shoes, grab their swim caps, or hop on their bikes to discover the life-changing benefits of lifelong exercise.


Finally, here is video of the full episode, for premium subscribers only.

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