Why It’s Never Too Late to Start Running

Sometimes research is helpful at confirming common-sense suppositions. Such is the case with a new study that shows that people in their 60s who are aerobically fit do better at healthy aging, even if they start working out in their 60s.

In a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers used eight years of follow-up data on 3454 older adults who were free of disease at the beginning of the study. When the study began, the participants’ average age was 63.7.

The researchers compared the adults’ self-reported data on physical activity levels with whether they developed major chronic disease, depressive symptoms, physical or cognitive impairment during the eight-year follow-up. The researchers defined healthy ageing as not developing any of those conditions during the study.

Almost a fifth, 19.3%, made it to the last follow-up evaluation without developing any of the conditions. Compared to participants who had been inactive at the outset, those who reported moderate or vigorous activity at least once a week were, on average, 2.67 and 3.53 times as likely, respectively, to have experienced healthy aging, even after adjusting for age, sex, smoking, alcohol, marital status and wealth.

Even better news, those who had become more physically active during the study had a higher likelihood of experiencing healthy ageing than those who hadn’t. As the researchers put it, “Significant health benefits were even seen among participants who became physically active relatively late in life.”

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