The importance of staying in shape at any age cannot be overstated. For adult men, fitness is one of the leading determinants of life expectancy. This is true whether you are 30, 50 or 70 years of age. Research shows that as a general rule, men who find a way to work an exercise routine into their everyday routine will live longer and healthier lives. A new study from researchers at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Washington, D.C. shows that the benefits of a regular fitness regimen are significant not just for young adult and middle-aged men but for seniors as well.
The Veterans Affairs study examined the medical history of 2,153 subjects, all men over the age of 70. Researchers divided the subjects into four distinct groups ranging from “very low fit” to “high fit.”
After adjusting for an array of factors including body mass index, heart disease and use of prescription medicines, researchers monitored participants for an average of 9 years. During that time, they were able to arrive at some pretty significant conclusions. At the end of the study’s duration, roughly 1000 of the participants had passed away. Comparing mortality across fitness groups, researchers determined that those in the “low fit” category were at an 18% lower risk of death than their counterparts in the “very low fit” group.
Those who were classified as “moderately fit” had a 36% lower risk of death during the course of the study and those who fell into the “high fit” category demonstrated a 48% lower risk of death. Researchers summed it up another way, noting that for every 100 people who passed away in the “very low fit” category, only 52 deaths were recorded in the “high fit” group.
Though researchers would not go so far as to conclude that a fitter lifestyle will inherently prolong one’s life, the findings do suggest that being active can certainly improve your odds. An article in Peak Fitness offers further explanation, pointing out that a sedentary lifestyle can carry its own inherent risks. Especially among seniors, those who spend significant portions of the day sitting or otherwise not engaging in physical activity are at the highest risk for obesity, heart disease and mortality.
Simply stated, research supports the ideas that you need to get up and get active. Regardless of genetic profile or personal medical history, this study shows that you can improve your long-term health prospects by pursuing fitness on your terms.
What You Can Do
The great thing, say researchers, is that you don’t have to become an Olympic athlete to improve your health prospects. For men over 70, thirty minutes of walking on most days of the week is enough to begin lowering your risk.
Consult your physician or a personal trainer to determine what your limitations are and what exercises will benefit you most. Don’t be intimidated by the idea of getting fit. Regardless of your age, there is a fitness routine out there that is within the range of your abilities. Find out what it is and start improving your chance at longevity right away!