Study shows that regardless of age, the body does not lose the ability to perform at its maximum over a longer period of time

Older athletes who continue training expend as much energy as Tour de France cyclists, found scientists at the Department of Biomedicine and the Centre for Healthy Ageing at the University of Copenhagen.

Previously, it was thought that age limited the ability with which athletes could perform at near-maximum rates. But the latest trial has proved otherwise.

Researchers tracked six men aged 46-71 years who cycled 2700km in two weeks. Results showed that they expended 4.0 times the basal metabolic rate (the amount of energy used by the body at rest), similar to the 4.3 times the basal metabolism that is expended by cyclists in Tour de France.

“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,” said Professor Joern Wulff Helge, one of the researchers.

“The only difference being that it takes longer for a senior to cover the distance than it would a Tour de France cyclist.”