Age Like a Former Athlete
But their 2013 VO2 max numbers still placed them in the top 10 percent or so of older American men, based
on tables developed in recent years using cardiovascular testing data from thousands of aging people.
Twenty-five years later, in 1993, curious to see how the athletes’ bodies had changed
in the intervening years, Dr. Daniels, a professor of kinesiology at A. T.
Still University in Mesa, Ariz., assembled the same group at a human performance lab and tested them again.
Numerically, the men’s VO2 max levels declined more during the 45 years of the study, she says, in terms of the percentage
of the capacity they lost per decade, than would be considered normal, based on data from nonathletes
Each man’s VO2 max had declined significantly since 1968, when he was in his 20s and competing, and also since the second testing in 1993.
He tested 26 of the athletes extensively, determining their aerobic capacity, or VO2 max,
and many other measures of health and performance capability.
Twenty-two of the men, who by this time were in their late 60s or early 70s, agreed to participate
when she contacted them the next year, by then 45 years after their original testing.
They might be physiological outliers whose lucky cardiovascular quirks lingered into old age
and allowed them to remain unusually fit in comparison to other older people.