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How Old is Too Old to Exercise?

Brian Calkins - NSCA-CPT, ACE | Cincinnati, Ohio

Seventy-four year old Fred Wiltz can run 2 miles under 10 minutes. If you didn't know, that is FAST! In fact, it is so fast that if he were 18, he would earn a collegiate track scholarship.

How does he do it? He runs 200 meters fast, 10 times, 2 times per week.

John Staley from Las Vegas, NV can press 250 pounds 10 times. If you don't know, that is STRONG! John is 78 years old and he's not very large.

How does he do it? He never quit heading to the weight room after work.

Regardless of your age your body does not have to wilt.

For example; let's randomly select any 20 year old that has never lifted weights and pair him with his seventy- five year old grandfather for a series of workouts.

We'll ask them both to exercise at 80% of their maximum ability, three times per week for 8 weeks. Guess what'll happen?

Tufts University researchers discovered that they both increased their strength identically - each achieving a 300% improvement!

What that means is that you'll never lose the ability to gain strength, regardless of age!

What type of program would we use with a 75 year old client? The exact same one we'd use with a college student but we'd start at a lower level and progress a little slower.

Remember, our bodies were created to move. If we don't keep our bodies moving, here is what we stand to lose over the decades:


Lean Muscle Tissue

  • We lose 6.6 lbs of muscle per decade unless we use it.

  • Ninety-five percent of lower back pain comes from lack of strength and/or flexibility.



  • We lose significant neural adaptation over time. Up to 20-30% decreases in coordination occur simply by not exercising. We're not uncoordinated because we are aging; we are uncoordinated because we haven't used it.


Basal Metabolic Rate

  • The body's natural ability to burn fat drops drastically as we lose muscle. We can change that at any age.


Body Fat Percentage

  • A decrease in 5-7% of your body fat can reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke by 40-50%!


Aerobic Capacity

  • Our heart & lungs don't become weaker as we age. Exercise maintains aerobic capacity.


Blood Sugar Tolerance

  • Type II (adult onset) diabetes should never happen. We allow it take place by abusing our cell receptor sites through overeating and not keeping our exercising hormones stimulated.



  • Far more significant improvement in cholesterol profiles come from exercise as compared to medication. Rising cholesterol levels are mostly within our control.


Blood Pressure

  • Known as the "silent killer" since there are no symptoms, we can achieve a 34% decrease in blood pressure with two months of exercise.


Bone Density

  • Research at Tufts University found that exercise was far and away the most effective protocol for increasing bone mass density.


As Dr. Ken Cooper at the Cooper Institute in Dallas, Texas says, "Use it or lose it. Age quickly or age gracefully, it's your choice."

And there's no better time to start than today!

Additional Resources: Fitness Programs to Help You Get Fit, Regardless of Your Age or Current Condition:

  1. Cincinnati’s Total Fitness Makeover Program
  2. Cincinnati Adventure Boot Camp for Women
  3. Mason/Blue Ash Adventure Boot Camp for Women
  4. Cincinnati Personal Training