Health Status of Older Long Distance Runners

Monday, 30 July 2012

Wipawee Pussawiro, BNS
Department of nursing medicine, Ramathibodi Hospital, Bangkok, Thailand

Learning Objective 1: The leaner will be able to articulate physical health status of older long distance runners.

Learning Objective 2: The leaner will be able to articulate perceived well-being of older long distance runners.

Purpose: To assess health status (body mass index, body flexibility, resting heart rate, leg strength, vital capacity, maximal oxygen uptake, bone mass density, and perceived well-being) of older long distance runners.

Methods: The sample consisted of 123 men and 17 women aged at least 60 years who had performed running ranging from half-mini marathon (5 km.) to full marathon (42.2 km). They were recruited with purposive sampling from running events held periodically by running-associated organizations in Bangkok, Thailand in 2010. Inclusion criteria included 1) being 60 years old and older; 2) having no heart disease or uncontrolled hypertension; and 3) being willing to participate in the study. The quantitative data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, while the qualitative data were analyzed using content analysis.

Results: The sample had the age ranging from 60 to 84 years (M = 66, SD =5.26 years). Most of them finished high school education and were retired. Data analyses revealed that 54.3% of the sample had normal body mass index; 33.6% had a moderate body flexibility level; the majority of the sample had a normal resting heart rate, and excellent leg strength, vital capacity, and maximal oxygen uptake. Almost half of the sample (40.7%) had osteopenia measured by dual energy x-ray absorptiometry. Lastly, perceived well-being assessed by the Cantril Ladder scale was at the good level.

Conclusion: Physical health and perceived well-being of older long distance runners ranged from good to excellent. However, body flexibility was at the moderate level. This study points out that older persons when adhere to physical exercise can achieve their optimal health.