Senior Men Expend Almost as Much Energy as Elite Cyclists

Seniors can expend almost as much energy as a Tour de France cyclist, according to a new study.

Researchers from the Department of Biomedical  Sciences and the Center for Healthy Aging at the University of Copenhagen examined how seniors convert energy when exposed to maximal physical exertion.

Six men, aged 46-71 years, cycled 2,700 km, approximately 1,677 miles, from Copenhagen to the North Cape, in two weeks, and the researchers examined them along the way. The resulting study shows that the seniors expended 4.0 times the basal metabolism. During Tour de France cyclists typically expend 4.3 times the basal metabolism.

“We are very surprised that seniors are able to expend as much energy as elite athletes such as Tour de France cyclists. This is the first study of seniors who’ve been exposed to this type of hard physical exertion. It’s fascinating that, even at an advanced age, our energy can be expended at that level,” says Postdoc Mads Rosenkilde Larsen from the Department of Biomedical  Sciences and the Center for Healthy Aging.

“Until now, it’s been unclear whether seniors can perform at near-maximum rates for humans. These results show that regardless of age, the body does not lose the ability to perform at its maximum over a longer period of time. The only difference being that it takes longer for a senior to cover the distance than it would a Tour de France cyclist”, Professor Jørn Wulff Helge from the Department of Biomedicical  Sciences and the Center for Healthy Aging, elaborates.

The study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.


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