A new study finds that exercise among older adults helps ward off depression, dementia and other health problems, such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Exercise increased the odds of healthy aging as much as sevenfold, the researchers found. And apparently it’s never too late to start: Even adults who don’t begin exercising until they’re older could increase their odds of healthy aging threefold, the researchers said.
“In a growing elderly population, it is important to encourage healthy aging. Physical activity is effective in maintaining health in old age,” said lead researcher Mark Hamer, from the department of epidemiology and public health at University College London, in England.
For the study, Hamer and his colleagues collected data on nearly 3,500 people with an average age of 64 who took part in the English Longitudinal Study of Aging.
As part of the study, the participants reported their level of physical activity every two years between 2002-’03 and 2010-’11. The researchers categorized the participants by how much exercise they did each week. There were those who were inactive, those who did moderate exercise and those who exercised vigorously.
People who partook in moderate or vigorous physical activity at least once a week were three to four times more likely to be healthy agers, compared with those who remained inactive, the researchers found. Moreover, people who were active at the start of the study were seven times more likely to be healthy agers than people who were inactive and remained so, the researchers found.
My Take: Want to stay healthy? Get moving. I’m Dr. Michael Hunter.
Reference: The report was published online Nov. 25 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.