Why Some Have Hearts and Lungs Like People 30 Years Younger

One simple thing could have a sizeable impact on the power of your organs.

Posted Dec 20, 2018

A recent study from Ball State University indicates that people in their 70s who have exercised regularly for decades have heart and lung capacity like healthy people in their early 40s, and you don’t have to be a competitive athlete to reap most of those benefits.

The study also compared competitive athletes to "regular exercisers" who worked out to maintain their health. The researchers found that while competitive athletes in their 70s enjoyed better cardiovascular capacity, other metrics were largely the same in the two groups.

"If you want to put in 30 to 45 minutes of walking per day, the amount of health benefit you are going to get from that is going to be significant and substantial," said Scott Trappe, director of Ball State’s Human Performance Laboratory and leader of the 11-person research team

So how do you acquire a lifelong habit of exercise?

Over the last three years I’ve worked with hundreds of obese and overweight clients, and the following actions helped tremendously in the creation of new exercise and eating habits.

  1. Define a "BIG WHY": Clients who've created a very detailed picture of how their lives might look in one full year if they could only stick to their new exercise and eating routines were much more motivated and successful.
  2. State Your Rules Clearly: Clients who defined exactly when, where and how much they would exercise were significantly more successful than clients who just followed general guidelines like "I’ll do my best to exercise five times a week."
  3. Manage Your Internal Dialog:  Each one of us has an inner voice that suggests we ditch the running shoes in favor of the TV and a bag of chips. But it’s possible to overcome that inner voice, no matter how loud and frequent it may become, by clearly separating your constructive vs. destructive thoughts about food, and aggressively managing your inner dialog. (Recognize and dispute the logic associated with all thoughts that justify breaking your rules).
  4. Forgive Yourself If You Make a Mistake: Everyone slips-up. We skip getting up early in the morning to exercise because we're tired. We eat that chocolate cake at the office party when we know we shouldn't! The fact is that as human beings we’re quite fallible, but it’s the people who learn from their mistakes, forgive themselves, and go back to implementing their rules that win in the long run. Winners keep getting up until they can stay up.  The name of the game is staying in the game until you win the game.
  5. Start Small:  Attempting to run 10 miles after being a "lifelong couch-potato" is just asking to fail. Starting with small challenges allows people to create a pattern of success which leads to greater confidence.  With confidence will come the ability to achieve greater things.


Kevin J. Gries; Ulrika Raue; Ryan K. Perkins; Kaleen M. Lavin; Brittany S. Overstreet; Leonardo J. D’Acquisto; Bruce Graham; W. Holmes Finch; Leonard A. Kaminsky; Todd A. Trappe; and Scott Trappe. (2018). “Cardiovascular and skeletal muscle health with lifelong exercise”.   Journal of Applied Physiology. 125 (5): 1636-1645

Ball State University. (2018, November 26). Study:  Regular, lifelong exercise helps keep the body young. [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.bsu.edu/news/articles/2018/11/regular-exercise-keeps-the-body-young