Aging Athletes May Be Older, But Not Slower

Like Favre and Armstong, some of the best athletes are also some of the oldest.

Oct. 12, 2008 — -- Swimmer Dara Torres nabbed three silver medals in the Beijing Olympics. Cancer survivor Lance Armstrong is currently training to win his eighth Tour de France. Brett Favre recently hurt his ankle, and then threw for six touchdowns in a game.

The stats are impressive by themselves, but add in the fact that the average age between these athletes is 39, and it is a whole different animal.

Torres, Armstrong and Favre are the front runners of a generation that sometimes refuses to stop playing and new technology, and a better understanding of conditioning, have allowed them to keep on going.

New high-tech gyms such as Athletes' Performance in Tempe, Ariz., are helping some elite athletes make the absolute most out of their aging bodies. The training allows some athletes to compete with the experience of a seasoned veteran and retain the raw energy and power of a rookie.

"If we can keep their physical ability here," Mark Verstegen, president and founder of Athletes' Performance told "Good Morning America," "while they learn more about their game, you start to look at changing the face of sport."

Athletes' Performance sports gaggles of machines and computers to pinpoint workout problems and inefficiencies. There are "Alter-G" treadmills that are air-filled to reduce stress on joints.

Dr. Roger Fielding of Tufts University, one of the leading researchers in aging athletes, believes that the method of training has also evolved.

"Because of the way people train and the way that they approach this as a year-long activity and conditioning programs lasting that last a whole year, there is no in and out of season type thing," he told "Good Morning America." "People are able to maintain a very high level for a very long time."

Ken Croner, Farve's trainer, knows that his training style has certainly evolved as well.

"Always in the past we thought, 'more is better, more is better.' Now we know that more is not better and muscles only actually get stronger when we rest and recover," he said.

And elite athletes are not the only ones benefiting from the new technology.

Harriet Anderson said she tries to swim, bike and run three times a week since she's planning to compete in the one of the most grueling races in the world, Hawaii's Ironman. Anderson is also 73 years old.

"This makes me feel young," she said. "So I think if I continue along the path of exercising and continue eating good and I think I'll live a long time."

With Anderson's near three quarters of a century on this earth, she has seen plenty of advances in exercise technology and believes it has been beneficial.

"I think my personal techniques have gotten better, mainly because of technology and science," she said. "There's always new information and they do new studies and so I try to incorporate that in my training."

Pro or not, it seems like that drive, that "eye of the tiger" is in some ways its own fountain of youth.