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It's Never Too Late to Shape Up

Older marathon runners improving their times more than younger runners

THURSDAY, Sept. 9, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Older marathoners are running a few steps ahead of their younger counterparts, says a Yale University study.

It found that marathon runners aged 50 and older are posting greater improvements in their running times than younger runners. This is particularly true for female athletes.

The researchers checked the running time, age and gender of all the 415,000 runners who took part in the New York City Marathon from 1983 to 1999.

Women marathon runners aged 50 to 59 improved their average race time by 2.08 minutes per year. Men in the same age group improved their time by an average of eight seconds a year.

Male and female runners aged 20 to 30 didn't show a significant improvement in their running times over that same period.

"Our data reflect the potential for improvement of the general health status of our aging population," Dr. Peter Jokl, a professor of orthopedics, said in a prepared statement.

"It is not surprising that the number of participating master athletes (50 and older) continues to rise. There is a general trend towards increasing numbers of our aging population who are in good health and physically able to participate in these types of strenuous competitions," Jokl said.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about exercise.

SOURCE: Yale University, news release, September 2004
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