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Body and heart of a 40-year-old at 93: Rowing champion reveals health secrets

Body and heart of a 40-year-old at 93: Rowing champion reveals health secrets RBC-Ukraine collage
Author: Maria Kholina

At 93 years old, Irishman Richard Morgan is a four-time world champion in indoor rowing. His body boasts no fat, and his aerobic engine rivals that of a 30 to 40-year-old man. He even became a participant in a study on healthy aging, as his heart, muscles, and lungs are twice as youthful as those of an average person, according to the Washington Post.

Starting sports after 70

Richard Morgan's results demonstrate that he is a model of healthy aging - a 90-year-old with a heart, muscles, and lungs resembling those of someone half his age. However, he is otherwise an ordinary person: a former baker and battery manufacturer with creaky knees who didn't engage in regular exercises until he turned 70 and still mostly trains in a shed in his backyard.

Despite his fitness journey beginning later in life, he has rowed almost 10 times around the globe and won four world championships. Researchers questioned whether late-life exercise influenced his aging body.

What made Morgan particularly interesting to researchers is that he didn't start exercising until he was 73 years old. Retired and somewhat out of shape at the time, he attended rowing training with one of his grandsons, a competitive college rower. The coach suggested he try using one of the rowing machines.

У 93 роки тіло і серце 40-річного: чемпіон з веслування розкрив секрети молодості

Richard Morgan and his wife (screenshot)

Research findings

Scientists invited the 92-year-old Morgan to the University of Limerick's physiology laboratory in Ireland to learn more. They measured his height, weight, body composition, and gathered detailed information about his diet. They also assessed his metabolism, heart function, and lung capacity.

He was then asked to sit on a rowing machine and simulate a 2000-meter distance while his heart, lungs, and muscles were being monitored.

Morgan proved to be a 90-year-old powerhouse: his lean 165 pounds were 80% muscle and likely only 15% fat - a body composition considered healthy for someone a decade younger. During the time trial, his heart rate peaked at 153 beats per minute, significantly exceeding the expected maximum for his age and ranking among the highest ever recorded for 90-year-olds, indicating a very strong heart.

His heart rate also rapidly approached this peak, indicating that his heart could quickly supply working muscles with oxygen and fuel. According to scientists, this "oxygen uptake kinetics," a key indicator of cardiovascular health, was comparable to that of a typical healthy 30 or 40-year-old.

У 93 роки тіло і серце 40-річного: чемпіон з веслування розкрив секрети молодості

Richard Morgan during his workout (screenshot)

Secrets of Richard Morgan's youth

Researchers noted that perhaps the most impressive aspect is that he developed this physical fitness with a simple and relatively short exercise program.

Consistency: he rows about 30 kilometers every week, averaging around 40 minutes per day.

Combination of light, moderate, and intense workouts: about 70% of these workouts are light, with Morgan exerting minimal effort. Another 20% are at a challenging but tolerable pace, and the remaining 10% are at a total, barely sustainable intensity.

Strength training: he also uses adjustable dumbbells two or three times a week for approximately three sets of squats and arm curls, repeating each movement until his muscles are too fatigued to continue.

High-protein diet: he consumes a lot of protein, regularly exceeding the typical dietary recommendation (about 60g of protein for a person of his weight).