Can we fend off chronic disease? The evidence says yes

We have all heard that physical fitness is an important factor in health, but how important a factor?  And is it ever too late to get fit?

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.


  1. The big irony here is that medical science and an improved knowledge of general hygiene has reduced the nasty pathological diseases like the plagues to a minimal level so these don’t tend to kill us any more.

    The problem now is that we are quite capable of killing ourselves through a lack of activity and poor diet. The killers today are the degenerative diseases like stroke, heart attack, Diabetes II which very closely correlate with our unhealthy lifestyles.

    “If you don’t use it you will lose it” and “you are what you eat” are so true today.

    We need to wake up and realise that the rut we are living in could become our grave!

    Activity is the key, physical exercise etc., with a healthy diet a close second.

    Here endeth my rant.


    Mike FD

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