A new study, published online last week in the journal PLOS ONE, highlights an unexpected benefit of jogging in older adults. Researchers at Humboldt State University and the University of Colorado, Boulder report that adults over age 65 who run at least 30 minutes 3 times a week were less likely to experience age-related physical decline in walking efficiency than those who simply walked. The study found that participation in high aerobic activity by this population results in a lower metabolic cost of walking, as compared with sedentary study subjects.
Metabolic cost is the amount of energy needed to move, and it increases naturally increases with age. High metabolic cost contributes to making walking more difficult and tiring. Decline in walking ability is a key predictor of morbidity in older adults. The researchers hypothesize that vigorous exercise results in healthier mitochondria in their muscles, and plan to investigate other forms of high-aerobic activity such as swimming and cycling for evidence of similar benefit.
A news story about the research may be read here.