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Never Too Late to Start: Benefits of Exercise Continue Throughout Adulthood

, by DCEG Staff

Being active and maintaining leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) from adolescence into adulthood as well as initiating an LTPA routine in later adulthood are associated with lower risk of death in a population of U.S. older adults, according to a study published in JAMA Open Network on March 8, 2019.

Researchers from the National Cancer Institute, California Polytech University, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, analyzed self-reported LTPA from over 300,000 participants in the National Institutes of Health - AARP Diet and Health Study. They found that individuals who maintained some physical activity (2-7 hrs/ week) throughout their life experienced the lowest risk of death over the study period. Notably, those who were inactive in early adulthood but began exercising later in life experienced similar benefits to those who were continuously active. However, individuals who were active in their youth but did not continue LTPA as they aged lost some of those health benefits.

This study supports previous findings on the health benefits of physical activity, i.e. that maintaining LTPA at all ages is important. It also adds new evidence about the benefits of exercise in later adulthood: it is never too late to start exercising to reduce risk of death.

Reference:

Saint-Maurice PF, Coughlan D, Kelly SP, Keadle SK, Book MB, Carlson SA, et al. Association of Leisure-Time Physical Activity Over the Adult Life Course with All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality. JAMA Network Open, March 8, 2019. DOI: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.0355

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