A study published earlier last month in the Archives of Internal Medicine suggests that becoming fit in middle age, even if you haven’t previously exercised, can stave off illness later in life.
In the study, researchers collected medical records for more than 18,000 healthy middle-aged men and women who’d visited the Cooper Institute in Dallas, Texas for a check-up since 1970. Each subject took a treadmill test to determine their aerobic fitness at their first check-up. Then the researchers checked their Medicare records from 1999 through 2009.
The study found that people who were least fit at the time of their initial check-up were the most likely to developed chronic conditions such as heart disease and cancer early in the aging process. Those who were most in middle-age developed the same conditions, but significantly later in life compared to the less fit.
The take-home message of this study actually parallels a lesson shared in Karl’s book 30 Lessons for Living, which shares advice from America’s elders. The lesson is: It’s not dying you should worry about – it’s chronic disease.
This study provides evidence that you can actually do something to help prevent chronic disease later in life – exercise!
The study is backed up by several systematic reviews. One published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport found physical activity helps prevent heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Another published in Obesity Reviews found individual who are overweight but have good aerobic fitness are at lower risk of cardiovascular disease compared with individuals with normal weight and poor fitness.
The bottom line: Physical fitness can help you lead a healthier, happier life no matter what your age.