Lisa Wehr's Public Health Blog

Lisa is originally from Sigourney, Iowa. She attended Iowa State University and received her bachelor’s degree in Music in 2010. She is currently a first year Master’s of Public Health (MPH) student in community and behavioral health (CBH). Lisa works on the medicine-psychiatry unit at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC). Through this blog Lisa hopes to let people learn about the CBH department.

This student blog is unedited and does not necessarily reflect the views of the College of Public Health or the University of Iowa.

24 January 2011

Old? Hardly.

So this weekend, (instead of you know, reading or studying). I wrote a whole bunch of blog posts! I don't want you all to be overwhelmed and binge on my awesomeness, so I'm keeping them in the background and releasing them one at a time. I have posts set for the next couple weeks and I always have more ideas that I will continue to draft. But having this head start makes me really really happy. It should make you happy too because it means that I will be posting more regularly (you should also be happy that this means most of my posts receive a second round of editing ;)

Read up!

Starting off, thoughts on an article in the NY Times (my favorite newspaper in case you hadn't noticed).

This lady is a rock star. At 91-years-old she continues to compete in "masters" track events. And not just compete, she blows away the competition. Master's track competition begins at the age of 35 and performances are compared using age-graded tables that turn times/distances into percentiles when compared to other athletes in the same age group. Olga's percentiles run at 100% (or more, since the tables are new because of how few athletes in her age group compete). She often beats athletes who are in age-groups one or two classes below her own.

Many scientific disciplines are studying her to determine why she performs better than her peers. There may be some inherent genetic/physiological factors specific to her, and that is being looked into. What interests me, however, is the theory that intense exercise makes a bigger difference on the aging process than the moderate exercise that is generally recommended for the elderly. The reason for this recommendation is to prevent injuries (which are more likely as people age). But if one can find a balance between training hard enough to see the most gain and moderately enough to avoid injury, they can reap the most benefit.

So should we start encouraging older people to exercise more intensely? Are we recommending a sub-optimal level? Or are we being responsible and not encouraging people to test limits (and thus risk injury)?

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