The Benefits of Middle-Age Fitness – NYTimes.com

Impressive evidence from a large-scale study on the benefits of exercise for the aging process. Again, walking 30 minutes a day largely does it. Quote:

What they found was that those adults who had been the least fit at the time of their middle-age checkup also were the most likely to have developed any of eight serious or chronic conditions early in the aging process. These include heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and colon or lung cancer.

The adults who’d been the most fit in their 40s and 50s often developed many of the same conditions, but notably their maladies appeared significantly later in life than for the less fit. Typically, the most aerobically fit people lived with chronic illnesses in the final five years of their lives, instead of the final 10, 15 or even 20 years.

While this finding might not seem, on its face, altogether positive — the fit and the unfit alike generally became infirm at some point, the Medicare records showed — the results should be viewed as encouraging, says Dr. Benjamin Willis, a staff epidemiologist at the Cooper Institute who led the study. “I’m 58, and for me, the results were a big relief,” Dr. Willis said.

That’s because, he points out, the results show, in essence, that being physically fit “compresses the time” that someone is likely to spend being debilitated during old age, leaving the earlier post-retirement years free of serious illness and, at least potentially, imbued with a finer quality of life.

The Benefits of Middle-Age Fitness – NYTimes.com.

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