Now that you’ve hit your 40s, 50s, 60s or 70s do you think that it’s too late to get healthy and fit? Well, think again!
Studies show that people past the age of 40 can benefit from exercise even if they weren’t active in their younger years. A study published in Circulation, following more than 4200 men and women over 10 years, shows that those who participated in the recommended 2.5 hours of exercise a week, had lower levels of inflammatory markers in their blood, even if they began exercising in their 40s. Raised levels of inflammatory markers may indicate a serious disease, including heart problems.
“We pay this huge penalty in America for our lifestyle and we don’t really realize how big it (the penalty) is,” says Henry S. Lodge, M.D., co-author of Younger Next Year for Women: Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy—Until You’re 80 and Beyond.
““Both men and women after a certain age do lose their fitness and health and vitality, you see it all around you, but it’s because of the choices we’re making,” adds Lodge. “There’s nothing biological about it. I think we get fooled by the fact that it’s become the norm in America, and there’s nothing normal about it.”
Prevent Aging with Exercise
According to Lodge, 70 percent of the problems of aging (weakness, sore joints, bad balance), can be avoided and 50 percent of illness and injury can be prevented.
“Adult onset diabetes is entirely a lifestyle disease, says Lodge. “You’re susceptible to it because of your genetics, but you can cure it in virtually everyone who has it with diet and exercise.”
Another long-term study, the English Longitudinal Study of Aging, which tracked thousands of British women and men over eight years, showed that those participants who exercised during their older years had better overall health than their sedentary counterparts. Even those participants who took up exercise late in life showed significant health improvements.
“If you take a woman who’s sedentary and you put her in a strength training program, in three months she can double her leg strength,” says Lodge. “And if you take anybody who’s sedentary but healthy, you can train them to run a marathon in a year, if their knees don’t give out. From a fitness perspective, your body is ready to come back to life throughout the whole duration of your life.”
You Can Increase Muscle Mass Even after 60
While Lodge advocates exercising six days a week to reap the maximum health benefits, taking part in at least some exercise does improve your fitness. Women over the age of 60 who participated in a study by the University of Alabama at Birmingham increased their lean muscle mass and improved their strength and endurance by exercising only one day a week! Studies show that not only does exercise help women with their physical health but also their psychological health and social well being.
It’s also not too late to change your eating habits for the better. Consuming more fruits and vegetables, along with lean protein and whole grains, will not only help you maintain a healthy weight but also prevent or delay many diseases.
“I think women have to be aware that they’re living well into their 80s and 90s on average and that basically if you live the last 20, 30 years of your life in a very diminished fashion because you didn’t take care of yourself , it’s pretty miserable,” says Lodge. “But if you live those years strong and on top of your life, it’s pretty great.”