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Aging and Physiological Lessons from Master Athletes

Tanaka H1Tarumi T2,3Rittweger J4,5.

Compr Physiol. 2019 Dec 18;10(1):261-296. doi: 10.1002/cphy.c180041.

 

 

Abstract

Sedentary aging is often characterized by physical dysfunction and chronic degenerative diseases. In contrast, masters athletes demonstrate markedly greater physiological function and more favorable levels of risk factors for cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, frailty, and cognitive dysfunction than their sedentary counterparts. In many cases, age-related deteriorations of physiological functions as well as elevations in risk factors that are typically observed in sedentary adults are substantially attenuated or even absent in masters athletes. Older masters athletes possess greater functional capacity at any given age than their sedentary peers. Impressive profiles of older athletes provide insight into what is possible in human aging and place aging back into the domain of «physiology» rather than under the jurisdiction of «clinical medicine.» In addition, these exceptional aging athletes can serve as a role model for the promotion of physical activity at all ages. The study of masters athletes has provided useful insight into the positive example of successful aging. To further establish and propagate masters athletics as a role model for our aging society, future research and action are needed