The Importance of Activity Can't Be Overstated
One consistent message in health news is just how much physical activity contributes to maintaining health. Are you sedentary? Entering middle age? Managing a chronic disability? A flurry of new studies confirms (again) that exercise is an essential part of staying healthy.
While getting fit as a youngster has its advantages, as the saying goes, it’s never too late to start. Neurology reports that, in one study, people who were the fittest at age 25 maintained better thinking (cognition) skills over time, and each extra mile participants were able to run mapped to additional recall and fewer mistakes in memory tests. The good news, for those who spent their twenties lounging on the couch: exercise’s influence on cognition appears to have an effect at any age.
This story was bolstered by news from the British Medical Journal, which published a study linking inactivity in women over 30 to heart disease—and finding it a greater risk factor than smoking. Fortunately, other research highlights how much can be gained even when starting later in life, as announced in a press release from the European Society of Cardiology, which found that men who begin relatively intensive endurance exercise after age 40 may get similar long-term heart benefits as those who start training before age 30.
Finally, working-age adults with disabilities who don’t get any aerobic physical activity are 50% more likely than their active peers to have a chronic disease such as cancer, diabetes, stroke, or heart disease. According to CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, “Physical activity is the closest thing we have to a wonder drug.”
We all know the answer, couch potatoes: It’s time to stand up and go for a walk. Pull some weeds. Take the stairs. If it’s hard to get started, find a buddy. If you care about your health and quality of life, do yourself a favor and find what works for you to get your body moving.