Health Tips > Prevention Plus > The Power of Midlife Fitness on Your Health

The Power of Midlife Fitness on Your Health

Did you go to the gym recently looking for fitness benefits in the short term? Many people often exercise to lose weight immediately, but recent research shows that your efforts today can also have significant benefits as you age.

A recent study published by The Cooper Institute and UT Southwestern Medical Center in The Archives of Internal Medicine, found that people who are fit at midlife have fewer chronic diseases later in life. According to the study, a person’s fitness level at midlife can improve not only the quantity of their life, but also the quality.

Researchers examined over 18,000 generally healthy men and women who completed a baseline preventive medical examination at Cooper Clinic when they were, on average, 49 years of age. The participants’ cardiorespiratory fitness was measured using a maximal treadmill stress test, along with an assessment of their body mass index (BMI), blood pressure and cholesterol.

The participants’ health status was evaluated using Medicare data, on average 26 years after their initial examination. The results? The participants who were more fit in midlife had less risk of chronic conditions such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, Alzheimer’s disease and certain cancers in later life.

The study also found that fittest participants who had died during the study spent less time in their final five years burdened with chronic health conditions.

“This research illustrates perfectly what we’ve been practicing for over 40 years. A healthy and fit lifestyle allows us to square off the curve,” says Kenneth H. Cooper, MD, MPH, Founder and Chairman of Cooper Aerobics. “That means we want people to spend most of their lives in good health with an active lifestyle and less time with a chronic disease.”

It’s never too late to start living a healthy lifestyle. And now we know that being fit during your midlife offers great benefits later in life. And that doesn’t mean you need to be an elite athlete. The Cooper Institute recommends adults achieve a minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic activity for health benefits.  

How can you age well and live a longer, healthy life?

  • Start by incorporating exercise into your daily routine. Physical activities such as walking, swimming or jogging can help protect your health. Try 20 or 30 minutes of walking on most days of the week.
  • Schedule a comprehensive preventive exam. One of Dr. Cooper’s eight Get Cooperized healthy steps to achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle includes an annual comprehensive physical exam. This will give you an in-depth picture of your health and an action plan to improve and maintain it.

Benjamin Willis, MD, MPH, was the first author on the study which also included co-authors Laura DeFina, MD, and David Leonard, PhD, of The Cooper Institute and Jarret Berry, MD, and Ang Gao, MS, of UT Southwestern Medical Center.

To learn more about the study, click here. For more information on The Cooper Institute click here or call 972.341.3200.
 

Article provided by Cooper Aerobics Marketing and Communications.