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The retiree (93) has a 30-year-old body

The retiree (93) has a 30-year-old body

Irishman Richard Morgan only discovered his passion for sports in his seventies. Now 93, he's as fit as 30- to 40-year-olds get.

Richard Morgan has already won four World Indoor Rowing Championship titles. –

The basics in a nutshell

  • Irishman Richard Morgan is a sports fan.
  • He is 93 years old and has the fit of a healthy 30-40 year old man.
  • He has already won the World Indoor Rowing Championships four times.

Richard Morgan is a wonderful retiree. The 93-year-old Irishman has the physique of a healthy 30 or 40-year-old man. He is a four-time world indoor rowing champion, and his life offers valuable lessons about aging.

Morgan wasn't always so fit. As The Washington Post reported, he only started exercising regularly in his 70s. Despite his late start, he has rowed nearly ten times around the world.

A study recently published in the Journal of Applied Physiology examined Morgan's training, nutrition, and exercise physiology in more detail. The findings suggest that Morgan is a role model for healthy aging in several ways. A model of a pensioner with the heart, muscles and lungs of a human being less than half his age.

Training in the home garden

Despite his impressive fitness, Morgan is quite a natural in other areas: the former baker with troublesome knees mainly trains in his garden shed.

The researchers were particularly interested in knowing what Morgan's late training did to his aging body. “We need to look at very active older people if we want to understand aging,” one of the study's authors said.

Many questions about the biology of aging remain unanswered. For example, whether the physical slowdown and muscle loss that typically accompanies aging is normal and unavoidable. Or maybe it's at least partly due to lack of exercise.

80 percent muscle

The researchers invited Morgan to the laboratory at the University of Limerick in Ireland. They measured his height, weight, and body composition and collected information about his diet. They also checked his metabolism and heart and lung functions, according to the Washington Post.

They then asked him to get on a rowing machine and complete a simulated 2,000-meter race. At the same time, they monitored his heart, lungs and muscles.

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“It was one of the most inspiring days I've ever spent in the lab,” said Philip Jackman from the University of Limerick. Morgan proved to be a formidable force: his 75 kilograms were made up of about 80 percent muscle and barely 15 percent fat. A body composition that is considered healthy for a man decades younger than him.

The joy of sports

Scientists suggest that Morgan likely has some genetic advantages. Rowing skills seem to run in his family.

“There's a certain joy in winning a World Cup,” Morgan said through his grandson, with almost comic modesty. “I started from scratch and suddenly realized there was a lot of joy in it.”