We probably all wish we’d spent a little more time being active and a little less time sitting behind a computer, stuck in traffic, in front of the tv. And it’s easy to feel defeated – that you’ve waited too long and now it’s too late to bother starting up an exercise regime in your 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond.
But a new study, published in the JAMA Network Open, has good news – that people who introduced exercise into their routine later in life can reduce their mortality rate just like people who’ve been hitting the gym their entire lives.
The study found that while life-long participation in physical activity is an important factor to lowering mortality rate, becoming physically active later in life may provide comparable health benefits.
In the study, 315,059 participants were divided into 3 groups – those who were active throughout their lives, those who were inactive in their youth but increased physical activity in later years and those who were previously active but decreased physical activity as they aged.
Not surprisingly, those who were active throughout their lives fared quite well. But what could come as a surprise to many is that those who increased their physical activity in their later years had mortality rates 32 to 35 percent lower than the control group – putting them on an even playing field with the lifelong gym rats.
On the flip side, the group that started out active and lost steam reduced their mortality rate only 8 to 14 percent, losing almost all of the benefits of their early physical activity.
This study gives even lifelong couch potatoes hope – that any amount of exercise, introduced at any stage of life, can still have a significant impact.