The 'new' discoveries about perpetually young runners are lessons which the Lapps - an energetic people who roam the northern reaches of Scandinavia while tending herds of reindeer - could have taught us centuries ago. The Lapps have a rather unusual cultural tradition: upon reaching the age of 55, a Lapp father gives the family's herd of beasts to his eldest son and retires to a life of sedentary reflection and story-telling around the campfire, a transition which transforms even the most wiry, fatigue-proof Lapps into lethargic doughnuts.
When noted Swedish exercise physiologist Bengt Saltin transported treadmills to the tundra as part of a Lapp-testing project several years ago, he found that the herders' aerobic capacities remained at incredibly high levels up to the age of 55 but then plummeted as soon as permanent seats were taken at the fireside. As Saltin concluded, it's really a lack of exercise - not ageing - which makes fitness deteriorate appreciably as we get older.
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