Fitness in Midlife extends Lifespan and reduces chance of Chronic Illness

credit: National Cancer Institute Bill Branson (Photographer) - PD

(Best Syndication News) - A study found that people who are physically fit during the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s have a better chance at a longer lifespan and at the same time they could improve their chance that they will remain in good health in their last years of life. Researchers from UT Southwestern Medical Center and The Cooper Institute published their findings in the online edition of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Regular aerobic exercise has previously demonstrated a reduced death risk. In this study, the researchers wanted to find out if being physically fit in midlife would change the rate of chronic disease in the last years of life.

Dr. Jarett Berry, assistant professor of internal medicine and senior author of the study, said that being fit would lower the risk / start of chronic disease in the elderly and not just delay it.

To investigate the association of fitness and chronic disease in elderly people, researchers looked at the patient records of 18,670 participants in the Cooper Center Longitudinal Study, which had collected over 250,000 medical records over four decades. The patients’ records were then put together with their Medicare filings to see what chronic illnesses occured when they were between 70 and 85 years old. The earlier information from the Cooper Center Longitudinal Study provided the researchers information about the patients’ fitness levels in midlife, while the Medicare data helped them determine their chronic illness outcome.

The researchers found that if the patient had increased fitness levels by 20 percent during the midlife years, they had a 20 percent reduced chance of developing congestive heart failure, Alzheimer's disease, and colon cancer when they were seniors.

The results were equally beneficial for men and women. The more physically fit patients were, the fewer chronic illnesses they had during their final five years of life. The benefit comes from aerobic exercises such as walking, jogging, and running.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) recommends adults get a minimum of 2 ½ hours of moderate to intense aerobic activity weekly for optimal heart and overall health. Always discuss your exercise plans with a medical professional before starting a new fitness regimen.

By: Marsha Quinn
Health Reporter

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