An Ever-Strong Economy

The lungs of older runners may work as well as their younger counterparts, but age still plays a role in running ability

The measure of how efficiently runners use oxygen at a given pace is known as running economy. For runners, the less oxygen used, the better the economy, and this has been found to help predict race performance. Researchers who recently studied the running economy among a group of men and women, from age 18 to 60 and above, were surprised to find that the older runners’ economy did not decline.

“It should be encouraging to older runners to know that they can get out there and feel as good as the younger runners, as far as breathing is concerned,” says Steven Bischof, DO, of St. Joseph’s/Candler’s Primary Care located in Pooler.

“However, other variables are affected by aging, and will still affect the older runners’ ability to compete,” Bischof says.

Older runners are more prone to injury because the age of their bones, ligaments, and muscles.

“Younger runners are not as likely as their older counterparts to suffer from different conditions such as Achilles tendinosis, which is soreness in the tendon, or plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the sole of the foot,” Bischof says.

Dr. Bischof is an avid runner himself, having completed one half-marathon and more 10K’s than he can remember.

“I love 10K races,” Bischof says. “They are great for experienced, older runners.”

60 or Above, and Ready To Run

If you are a senior and want to give running a try, Dr. Bischof strongly recommends the following:

Get a full physical exam from your doctor, and perhaps an EKG.

Be realistic. Set exercise guidelines with your doctor, and start slow. Most injuries occur when runners push themselves too hard.

If an injury does occur and your doctor advises you to stop running for a period of time, don’t push yourself into getting out there anyway. Stop running or the injury will not be able to heal. 

  • St. Joseph's Hospital Campus: 11705 Mercy Blvd., Savannah, GA 31419, (p) 912-819-4100
  • Candler Hospital Campus: 5353 Reynolds St., Savannah, GA 31405, (p) 912-819-6000
  • Find us on:

St.Joseph's Hospital Campus: 912-819-4100

Candler Hospital Campus: 912-819-6000