Effects of Exercise vs. Aging

Posted on Posted in Fitness

I found this chart on the Harvard Medical School, Harvard Health Publications. This is a great summary of the effects of aging and exercise on the body.

Exercise vs. aging

  Effect of aging Effect of exercise
Heart and circulation
Resting heart rate Increase Decrease
Maximum heart rate Decrease Slows the decrease
Maximum pumping capacity Decrease Increase
Heart muscle stiffness Increase Decrease
Blood vessel stiffness Increase Decrease
Blood pressure Increase Decrease
Number of red blood cells Decrease No change
Blood viscosity (“thickness”) Increase Decrease
Maximum oxygen uptake Decrease No change
Speed of emptying Decrease Increase
Calcium content and strength Decrease Increase
Muscle mass and strength Decrease Increase
Metabolic rate Decrease Increase
Body fat Increase Decrease
Blood sugar Increase Decrease
Insulin levels Increase Decrease
LDL (“bad”) cholesterol Increase Decrease
HDL (“good”) cholesterol Decrease Increase
Sex hormone levels Decrease Slight decrease
Nervous system
Nerve conduction and reflexes Slower Decrease
Quality of sleep Decrease Increase
Risk of depression Increase Decrease
Memory lapses Increase Decrease 


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