Never too old to work out

Claiming you are too old for aerobic work-outs may no longer be a valid excuse, with Victoria University sports scientists saying it’s time for pensioners to sweat.


A pilot study by Victoria University PhD researcher Victoria Wyckelsma showed 70-year-olds could handle the intensity of aerobic work-outs on an exercise bike, despite their age or lack of fitness.


“They tolerated the intensity of it very well and we think there’s no reason why older people can’t use more intense exercise like this to achieve greater fitness and wellbeing,” Ms Wyckelsma said.


The participants did four sets of intense four-minute bursts on exercise bikes, with three-minute rests in between each set.


“This high intensity interval training is a different sort of training than you’d expect older people to be doing,” Ms Wyckelsma said. “But we think it may be more beneficial than longer sessions of low intensity exercise and, being quicker, also easier to fit into a daily routine.”


Ms Wyckelsma said it may be time to rethink exercise routines for older people. She added that until 10 years ago it was thought older people should not do weights training, but that it was now a commonly accepted exercise for them.


“The science is showing that more intense workouts are possible and this is just a continuation of that,” she said.


Ms Wyckelsma and study supervisors Professor Michael McKenna and Dr Itamar Levinger are now seeking volunteers over the age of 65 for a 12-week study to prove the physical benefits of the high intensity training.


“We already know older people can handle this type of workout, now we just need to measure its benefit,” she said. “We expect the trial will show big improvements in fitness, wellbeing and capacity to carry out daily activities.”


Whilst most adults over 65 will qualify for this study, people with type 2 diabetes or those with heart disease are not eligible.


“There’s no minimum fitness level or maximum age limit for this study,” she said.


To volunteer for the study ‘The effects of ageing and high-intensity exercise training’ or for more information contact Victoria Wyckelsma on 0419 137 897 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Before starting any vigorous exercise at older age, check with your doctor first.


14 February 2012.