Wehrmedizinische Monatsschrift

Age- and sex-related ability and readiness
for sporting efforts of 20 to 64 years old runners

Thomas Rüther a, Nadine Hartmann b, Alexander Witzki b, Alexander Sievert b, Ralph Schomaker c, Herbert Löllgen d, Dieter Leyk a, b

a German Sport University Cologne, Germany

b Bundeswehr Institute for Preventive Medicine, Andernach/Koblenz, Germany

c Centre of Sports Medicine Münster, Germany

d European Federation of Sports Medicine Associations, Laussane, Swiss



Physical and sporting performance are subject to characteristic age-related change processes caused by biological ageing and , not less important, changes in training and lifestyle [1]. Changes restricting physical resp. sporting performance often begin as early as young adulthood [2]. Training parameters like volume and intensity play a decisive role for the adaptive outcome. The present large -scale survey of regularly trained runners examines the ability and willingness to train intensively, and to push themselves to the limits of their capabilities.


Data from the nationwide survey of actively exercising subjects (www.dshs-koeln.de/med- pace). A subsample of 13,627 runners was extracted from participants with complete datasets (>160,000).

The questionnaire includes items concerning:

Sample selection criteria:



Sample characteristics

Running experience and training volume

Exercise intensity & motivation

Conclusion and relevance

The frequency of training close to the individual physical limit is declining with age in running men and women. Despite consistently high motivation for exercise in all age groups, self reported exercise intensity is also decreasing with age . Both extensive endurance training and high intensity training loads are relevant aspects for the maintenance and improvement of overall physical fitness. To maintain the ability and readiness for intensive training efforts, the application of more varied and high intensity focused training like CrossFit or high-intensity interval training (HIIT) might be advisable even in advanced age groups.


  1. Leyk D, Ruether T, Wunderlich M et al.: Physical Performance in Middle Age and Old Age. DtschAztebl Int 2010; 107(46): 809-816. mehr lesen
  2. Leyk D, Ruether T, Witzki A et al.: Physical Fitness, Weight, Smoking, and Exercise Patterns in Young Adults. Dtsch Arztebl Int 2012; 109(44): 737-745. mehr lesen


For the authors

Dr. Thomas Ruether

German Sport University Cologne

Institute of Exercise Training and Sport Informatic

Department IV: Exercise Physiology

Am Sportpark Muengersdorf 6, D-50933 Cologne

E-Mail: ruether@dshs-koeln.de

Posterpresentation at the ICSSP 2020 in Quebec, ­Canada (11 to 14 February 2020)