An elderly Irish man is so fit that he's become the subject of a case study — and for those who aren't exercising regularly, take hope: he didn't start working out until he was in his 70s.
As the Washington Post reports, doctors say 93-year-old indoor rowing champion Richard Morgan has the heart and body of a man in his 30s or 40s.
At 165 pounds that are 80 percent muscle, it's clear why Morgan attracted their attention. But when researchers at the University of Limerick hooked him up to vital monitoring machines and had him race a 2,000-meter mile on the rowing machine, they were stunned to find that his heart rate was 153 beats per minute, far higher than expected for his age and said to be one of the highest recorded for anyone his age.
"It was one of the most inspiring days I’ve ever spent in the lab," UL healthy aging and nutrition professor Philip Jakemen, who co-wrote a recent study about Morgan in the Journal of Applied Physiology, told WaPo.
Unlike the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's grueling workout, Morgan's abbreviated routine is as simple as it is sustainable. He uses the rowing machine for about 40 minutes per day, and roughly 70 percent of the time, he keeps things easy, while in the last 20 percent of that short time, he keeps up a medium pace before going hard for the final 10 percent.
Along with the rowing routine, the Irish powerhouse does lunges and curls with dumbbells two or three times a week until his muscles grow tired, and eats a bit more protein than the recommended daily amount. In a world of increasingly complicated — and oftentimes dangerous — name-brand workouts and fad diets, Morgan's self-made model is refreshingly simple and easily replicable, even if he might have some extra genetic juice keeping him so fit at his advanced age.
According to Lorcan Daly, the man's grandson who works at Ireland's Technological University of the Shannon as an assistant lecturer in exercise science, Morgan only got into fitness some 20 years prior at the age of 73, when he decided on a whim to go to a rowing practice session with another his grandsons, who was a collegiate rower.
As with most things related to health, the lithe Irishman's way with a rowing machine does seem to have a genetic component, with prior generations also engaging in the famously healthy exercise.
"He never looked back," Daly said.
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