While the benefits of exercise are well-known, a recent study has revealed that those who get fit at forty may see the results in the form of a longer lifespan.
According to researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the National Cancer Institute, science can now estimate how many extra years exercising adds to your life. The study focused on several degrees of intensity in exercising within a group of individuals of different weights and ages; however, some particularly positive results applied to 40-year-olds.
The researchers reported that for those who get fit at forty, a lower degree of exercise (such as a little more than an hour of brisk walking weekly) will add 1.8 years to their lifespan, which translates to a 19% lower risk of dying. Exercising at a higher intensity, more frequently, or for a longer amount of time will add additional time to the lives of those who get fit at forty. As another example, 7.5 hours spent walking briskly each week will add 4.5 years to that person’s life. This conclusion applied to those who were of average weight, overweight, or obese, and the results were similar for males and females.
So for those of you who want to get fit at forty—or even get fit at fifty—your motivation is clear: physical activity will lengthen your lifespan. Plus, it’s not that hard to get fit at forty. The best way to get fit at forty is “leisure-time physical activity” (brisk walking or similar exercise) ranging in intensity from average to vigorous. Like any type of exercise, the more you commit, the higher your fitness level will be.
While we age, we tend to exercise less, when we should really be exercising more. However, if you’re going to start to get fit at forty, ease yourself into it. Start with a brisk 30-minute walk three times per week, working your way up to a 40-minute job two to three times per week. Or work out at home by making use of stairs.
To increase your flexibility and get rid of those little aches and pains that seemingly go hand-in-hand with aging, add some simple stretching to your weekly routine or consider joining a tai chi or yoga class. Better yet, make getting fit at forty a social outing. Convince a friend, family member, or partner to go with you. Instead of heading to the movies, go for a hike; or instead of sitting at a café for coffee, consider grabbing your drinks to go. Teaming up with a friend on your mission to get fit at forty also provides more motivation and makes it more fun.
If a longer, healthier life isn’t enough to make you want to get fit at forty, other studies have shown that regular physical activity, including exercise at home, can help improve cognitive function, which is especially useful for warding off Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
To reap the benefits that naturally come when you get fit at forty, start this week with just one hour of brisk walking—it’s as simple as that.
Faulk, S., “5 things You Need to Know About Exercising After 40,” Livestrong web site; https://www.livestrong.com/article/3567-need-exercising-after/, last accessed May 30, 2013.
Moore, S.C., et al., “Leisure Time Physical Activity of Moderate to Vigorous Intensity and Mortality: A Large Pooled Cohort Analysis,” PLoS Medicine 2012; 9, doi: 10.1371/journal. pmed. 1001335.
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