A study published in British Journal of Sports Medicine has shown that exercise produces health benefits even for those who take up at a later age. Other studies have shown the benefits of exercise in age when taken up earlier in life. This study shows that these benefits - the slower pace of mental and physical decline - also apply to those who start at a more advanced age.
3454 subjects were studied, who were healthy and free of chronic conditions at the start of the study. The participants' level of physical activity at the start was also assessed. The study followed them up eight years later to see if there was any correlation between the level of physical activity and Healthy Ageing, defined as a lack of major chronic disease, symptoms of depression and physical or cognitive impairment.
At follow-up there was found to be a strong correlation between healthy ageing and physical activity after adjusting for age, sex, smoking, alcohol and wealth. The study found that the correlation held good for both participants who remained active as well as those who became active later in life.
The researchers were at pains to make it clear that what they found was a correlation between healthy ageing and exercise, not that exercise prevented disease. It is also important to bear in mind that continued exercise is essential to maintain ones level of fitness. Stop working at it and it will reduce.
The study was published in British Journal of Sports Medicine, part of the British Medical Journal. The research was carried out by Mark Hamer, Kim L Lavoie, and Simon L Bacon.