I was inspired to write this post by a slew of recent studies showing that midlife fitness (midlife roughly defined as 40-65) makes a big difference to health outcomes and cognitive function for the rest of your life. I’ve certainly experienced this personally – increasing my fitness at 40 helped normalize my blood pressure levels. And I’m probably fitter today than I was in my 20s (talk about wasted youth!).
Here’s a short list of recent studies showing the connection between fitness, age and health issues / benefits. (Fitness, as I’ve explained earlier, is the ability of your body to supply fuel to muscle when you are active):
1/ Fitness measured for 45-62 year olds predicts chances of 10-year survival. (John Hopkins Study)
3/ Fit older adults (55-82) did as well as younger adults on cognitive function. Unfit older adults did poorly. (Boston University Medical Center Study)
4/ Higher midlife fitness prevents the brain from shrinking (Boston University School of Medicine Study)
5/ Higher midlife fitness associated with lower risk of certain cancers in men (University of Vermont Study)
The interesting thing about these studies is that you don’t have to be a super-athlete at 50 to stay healthy – the level of fitness expected – 12-13 METs is well within the reach of the average 50-year old male as you’ll see from the charts below.
(Many of these studies have been conducted amongst male cohorts so difficult to be as precise for women — I’m hoping to see more studies on female fitness & health impact in the future).
The other interesting question that it raises – if you can stay as fit as the average 30-year old (which is an achievable goal for most 50-year olds) can you entirely avoid aging related health issues ?
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