As you probably know, I’m forever going on about the benefits those aged 50+ will get from taking up exercise and adopting a more pro-fitness lifestyle. So, firstly, apologies to those who’ve heard enough of this from me over the past few years!
It pleases me to report others agree with my views. A recent study, results of which were recently published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine and reported by the BBC in the words that follow, agrees with me. Since that august journal is quite possibly not on your reading list, allow me to pass on the key facts.
The study followed 3,500 healthy people at or around retirement age. The conclusion was that those who took up exercise were three times more likely to remain healthy over the next eight years than those inactive. Amongst other problems alleviated by exercise, according to the study, were rheart disease, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and obesity. Those who took up exercise in their middle age and behind were also less likely to struggle with day-to-day activities such as washing and dressing.
After eight years of follow-up, a fifth of the participants were defined as healthy – not suffering from any major chronic mental or physical illness. This group was largely made up of people who always exercised and relative newcomers to exercise. Few of this healthy group were people who did no exercise at all.
Doing regular exercise throughout your life is ideal, say the researchers, but there are health benefits to be had even if you are a late starter.
Lead investigator Dr Mark Hamer, from University College London, said: “The take-home message really is to keep moving when you are elderly. It’s a cliche, but it’s a case of use it or lose it. You do lose the benefits if you don’t remain active.”
In the study, those who had regularly indulged in moderate or vigorous physical activity at least once a week were three to four times more likely to be healthy agers than those who had remained inactive, even after taking into account factors such as smoking. Dr Hamer says physical activity does not necessarily mean going to the gym or going for a run – gardening or walking to the shops also counts.
The Department of Health recommends all adults, including those over 65, do a minimum of 150 minutes of physical activity a week.
Doireann Maddock, of the British Heart Foundation, said: “It’s well worth getting into the habit of keeping active, as we know it can help reduce the risk of heart disease along with many other conditions.
“Every 10 minutes counts, so even hopping off the bus a couple of stops early or taking a brisk walk on your lunch break will help.”
It’s great to see my views endorsed through a scientific study. I’d like to add that some progression is good – if you start doing a bit more walking, then try walking further. If you’re able, them try jogging a bit and progress from there. And if you really want to keep mobile and independently active into your old age, then some resistance exercise is ideal – look at the 20:20 Workout on my website to see one of the the best ways to use 20 minutes of home time each day. It’s on the ‘Workouts – Without A Gym’ tab of www.FitnessOverFifty.co.uk
Does this mean I will now stop seeing it as my job to tell people of my age group how great it is to live a healthy life by dropping the fatness levels and increasing the fitness levels? No chance!
Have a fit and healthy weekend!