Becoming Active Older

It's never too late to get moving

Becoming Active Older

Reduce the chances of premature death

Posted on 10.04.2019

They have the most free time of any age group yet they are the least active group of all.

Only 27 per cent of Australians over 65 meet the Department of Health physical activity guidelines of 30 minutes activity per day, a minimum which brings significant health benefits.

The 73 per cent who do not meet the recommendations can take heart; new research shows that it is possible to quickly regain the lost health benefits by starting exercise later in life or resuming it if it’s fallen by the wayside.

On the flip side, the exercise they did in our youth is not enough to sustain them for the rest of their lives; the benefits of physical activity are quickly lost when we stop exercising.

The study of more than 315,000 people, published in JAMA Network Open, explored how much people were physically active in their leisure time over the course of two decades. This included formal exercise like walking or team sports as well as incidental physical activity like gardening or housework.

They found that becoming physically active between 40 and 60 years old led to similar reductions in premature death from any cause as those who had maintained physical activity throughout their lives (reductions of up to 35 per cent and 36 per cent respectively).

Those who had become inactive in later life were as likely to have died prematurely as those who had been inactive throughout their lives.

“Our findings suggest that it is not too late for adults to become active,” the researchers said.


Professor Emmanual Stamatakis, of the University of Sydney’s School of Public Health, says the study offers “some brilliant evidence”.

“It is plausible that even when uptake later in life it can reverse the physiological and functional damage that has been caused by poor lifestyles and other life stressors over time,” he says. “But, unfortunately, the opposite is also the case: the benefits of exercise are relatively transient and are not carried forward, young regular exercisers who give up and adopt a sedentary lifestyle in their 30s or 40s gradually regress towards the poor health of those who never exercised.”

Sydney Morning Herald




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