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It’s Never Too Late (Benefits of Middle-Age Fitness)

Posted Sep 21 2012 7:50am

We are seeing a rise in life expectancy in the US with many people living passed the year of 78 , which is 4 years longer than reported in 1980. But instead of seeing an increase in life expectancy and an increase in health, the opposite is happening, called the lengthening of morbidity. Which means that people are spending more time living with chronic illnesses.

A new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine looked at how advance planning changes the likelihood of living with chronic illness. Specifically, measuring is fitness during middle age changed the prospects of chronic illness later on in life.

The study examined over 18,000 middle-aged men and women in 1970 (average age 49) where they were measured to determine their aerobic fitness level. All participants taking part were healthy and free of any chronic illness.

Then the researchers examined participants Medicare claim records (with permission) from the years of 1999-2009. By the end of the study, most of the participants were in their 70′s and 80′s.

What was discovered was those who were not fit in 1970 during their first check-up were the most likely to have a chronic illness (heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and colon or lung cancer). Adults who considered very fit during the 1970 check-up were likely to develop the same chronic illnesses, but these illnesses appeared later in life. Instead of experiencing these illness (like the unfit group) in the final 10, 15, or 20 years. The fit people were likely to live with the illness during their final five years of life.

Overall the findings didn’t show great significance between un-fit and fit middle-aged adults in prolonged life. What was of great importance was the delay seen in illness. It is hypothesized that those who are fit during middle-age will have a higher quality of life after retirement.

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