The Benefits of Mid-Life Fitness

Getting in the habit of doing regular exercise is challenging at any age, and perhaps more so as an individual gets older.

Too often, people have settled into a routine by the time they approach middle age, one that it is difficult to break out of, even if it means better health in the long term. However, regular exercise is one of the best things a person can do to keep his or her body fit and energetic into old age.

What’s more, a recent study suggests that those who are physically fit at middle age stave off chronic diseases longer, making their later years healthier than those who exercise less.

Lengthening of Morbidity

Lengthening of morbidity refers to a trend in health care that has come under scrutiny in recent years. People in the United States are living much longer on average than they did even a few decades ago.

However, this lengthening of life often comes at the expense of overall health in the final years. People are living longer than ever with diseases like cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s, but the toll these diseases take on the body leave many bedridden and saddled with ill health. This isn’t how many people would imagine spending their final years.

Fitness at Middle Age

A recent study1 tested individuals at middle age to ascertain their physical fitness. Between 20 and 30 years later, researchers checked the Medicare records of study participants. While participants at all levels of fitness did report chronic diseases, those who were more fit at the time of the study tended to not become sick until much later in life.

Those who fell into the “most fit” category tended to not get sick until the last five or so years of last, while those who spell into the “least fit category tended to spend ten or more years sick at the end of their lives.

How to Start Exercising

Starting an exercise plan can seem daunting at first, but those who are new to working out can rest assured that it’s not necessary to become an athlete or get perfectly toned muscles.

Joining an online fitness program and doing moderate exercise just three times a week has been shown to be more than sufficient to increase overall health. Walking or swimming for about an hour, or long enough to get the heart beating faster, is usually what doctors recommend.

Even moderate exercise can go a long way towards making the last years of your life more comfortable. Enjoy your retirement more by starting regular exercise as soon as you can.

1. Willis, B. L., Gao, A., Leonard, D., DeFina, L. F., & Berry, J. D. (2012). Midlife fitness and the development of chronic conditions in later life. Archives of internal medicine, 172(17), 1333-1340. link

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