#217 ‒ Exercise, VO2 max, and longevity | Mike Joyner, M.D.

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Mike Joyner is a physician-researcher and one of the world’s leading experts on human performance and exercise physiology. In this episode, Mike discusses how to combat age-related declines in health and fitness levels by using various modes of exercise to improve lifespan and healthspan. Mike explains the impact of exercise on the autonomic nervous system, blood pressure, heart rate, heart rate variability, heart rate recovery, and max heart rate. He dives deep into VO2 max, including how it’s measured, what is driving it, and how to improve it. Mike provides training insights for the average person, including training volume and exercise intensity as well as simple metrics to track. Furthermore, he gives his take on the theoretical “J-curve” relationship between exercise and longevity, as well as whether possible health dangers may be associated with excessive exercise.

We discuss:

  • Mike’s training as an anesthesiologist and interest in exercise physiology [2:30];
  • How exercise increases longevity [7:00];
  • The impressive data on the benefits of exercise [9:45];
  • The Centenarian Olympics and other ways to mitigate age-related decline in strength and stability [15:00];
  • The violent dropoff in strength and activity with age and how exercise preserves fitness in old age [19:00];
  • Benefits of exercise on mortality and fracture risk, and the interplay of nutrition and exercise [22:00];
  • How exercise benefits the autonomic nervous system and why this plays an important role in our health [26:30];
  • VO2 max, heart rate recovery, heart rate variability, and other metrics of fitness positively impacted by exercise [28:30];
  • Reduction in all-cause mortality with increased fitness levels and VO2 max [32:45];
  • Does the relationship between exercise and longevity follow a J-curve? [40:00];
  • Mitigating age-related decline in fitness by elevating your VO2 max at a young age [46:15];
  • Breaking down the variables that drive VO2 max [54:30];
  • Learning from elite athletes: Training regimens, aerobic efficiency, and other impressive metrics [1:00:15];
  • Health benefits of light exercise for the average person [1:09:00];
  • Simple training metrics to track, and Mike’s current exercise regimen [1:11:15];
  • How to boost your VO2 max, and the importance of form and tempo with interval training [1:18:15];
  • Training advice for the average person [1:25:15];
  • Why professional athletes have longer careers than they’ve had in the past [1:27:30];
  • Use of performance-enhancing drugs in professional sports [1:29:45];
  • Can the miracle of exercise be put in a pill? [1:36:00];
  • Mike’s current research and questions he’s most interested in answering [1:39:00];
  • Use of convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19 [1:41:15];
  • Parting thoughts on the current state of fitness and exercise in society [1:47:15];
  • More.

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