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Healthy Aging - It’s Never Too Late to Start Moving
Physical activity is one of the best ways to maintain good health as you age. And even people who become active later in life can reap the benefits, new research shows.
The study published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine followed nearly 3,500 men and women for eight years. None of the subjects had a chronic disease at the beginning of the study. The average age of the participants was 64.
The results: Active seniors were less likely to develop depression or a chronic disease such as heart disease or diabetes. These seniors also performed better on mental and physical tests.
Exercise Improves Mind and Body
Physical activity increased the odds of healthy aging by two to threefold. That’s compared with inactive people. Researchers defined “healthy aging” as avoiding depression and chronic diseases. Healthy aging also meant scoring well on tests of mental function and fitness.
Intensity, Commitment Also Help Healthy Aging
Vigorous exercise increased the odds of healthy aging more than moderate exercise. Vigorous activities include running or lap swimming. Brisk walking and biking are types of moderate exercise.
Researchers also looked at changes in activity. Compared with people who remained inactive, people who began exercising within the study’s first four years were more likely to age well. In fact, their odds of healthy aging more than tripled.
“Taking Up Physical Activity in Later Life and Healthy Ageing: The English Longitudinal Study of Ageing.” M. Hamer et al. British Journal of Sports Medicine. November 25, 2013, published online ahead of print, bjsm.bmj.com/content/48/3/239.full.pdf+html.