In a basic, but important test of function in older people, the time taken to stand from a chair, walk three metres, turn, walk back and sit down was also measured. Taking more than 15 seconds to complete the task generally indicates a high risk of falling. Even the oldest participants in the present study fell well below these levels, fitting well within the norm for healthy young adults.
Overall, the study concluded that aging is likely to be a highly individualist phenomenon. As people are so different, the team concluded that more studies are needed which follow the same healthy and exercising individuals over time to better understand the effects of aging the body.
Dr Ross Pollock, lead author of the paper from King’s College London, said: “An essential part of our study was deciding which volunteers should be selected to explore the effects of aging. The main problem facing health research is that in modern societies the majority of the population is inactive. A sedentary lifestyle causes physiological problems at any age. Hence the confusion as to how much the decline in bodily functions is due to the natural aging process and how much is due to the combined effects of aging and inactivity.”