If you’re going to take advice from anyone about how to stay fit as you age, it’s from 105-year-old cyclist and world-record holder Robert Marchand.
In 2012, Marchand set a world record for cycling the most miles in one hour (14) for any cyclist aged 100 and over.
So far, no one else his age has even attempted the record.
And Marchand isn’t a lifelong cycler, either.
He gave up cycling when starting work at the age of 15, until he retired aged 76.
Veronique Billat, professor of exercise science at the University of Evry-Val d’Essonne in France, took an interest in Marchand, following his record.
She decided to alter his workout programme, focusing on his VO2 max, which measures how well our bodies use oxygen.
The consensus is that it usually starts to decline around the age of 50, and Billat knew that intense exercise was required to increase it.
Up until this point, Marchand had kept his exercise at a leisurely pace.
She altered his routine so that a fifth of Marchand’s workouts were done at a much more difficult intensity – and he did this for two years, hoping to see an unlikely improvement in his VO2 max.
His VO2 max ended up 13 per cent higher than it was at the start of the experiment, and he had the aerobic capacity of the average 50-year-old.
Marchand went on to top his previous cycling record by three miles – making his new record, at the age of 103, 17 miles in one hour.
The study – published in the Journal of Applied Physiology – suggests VO2 max can be improved at any age.
There’s a chance Marchand is a genetic anomaly, of course.
He has a pretty healthy lifestyle and diet.
If there are any centenarians reading, it’s always best to check with your doctor before shaking up your exercise routine.