Being physically fit during your 30s, 40s, and 50s not only helps extend lifespan, but the chances of aging healthily, free from chronic illness, investigators at UT Southwestern Medical Center and The Cooper Institute have found.
People already know a healthy lifestyle is good in the short term, but it previously had been unknown how much fitness might affect the burden of chronic disease in the most senior years.
“We’ve determined that being fit is not just delaying the inevitable, but it is actually lowering the onset of chronic disease in the final years of life,” said Jarett Berry, M.D., assistant professor of internal medicine and senior author of the study available online in the Archives of Internal Medicine in a statement.
Researchers examined the patient data of 18,670 participants in the Cooper Center Longitudinal Study, research that contains more than 250,000 medical records maintained over a 40-year span. These data were linked with the patients’ Medicare claims filed later in life from ages 70 to 85. Analyses during the latest study showed that when patients increased fitness levels by 20 percent in their midlife years, they decreased their chances of developing chronic diseases – congestive heart failure, Alzheimer’s disease, and colon cancer by 20 percent.
This positive effect continued until the end of life, with more-fit individuals living their final five years of life with fewer chronic diseases. The effects were the same in both men and women.
For more information visit UT Southwestern’s website.