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The Benefits of Middle-Age Fitness

Reduces Risk Of Heart Failure

Getting fit in middle age not only could add years to your life through a variety of health benefits — it could also reduce your risk for heart failure, a new study suggests.

The Research

Researchers from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center ranked the fitness levels of 9,050 men and women (average age 48). Participants took two fitness tests — eight years apart — during midlife. After 18 years of follow-up, researchers compared the fitness information with Medicare claims for heart failure hospitalizations.

The Results

“People who weren’t fit at the start of the study were at higher risk for heart failure after age 65,” said Dr. Ambarish Pandey, M.D., lead author of the study, in a press release. “However, those who improved their fitness reduced their heart failure risk, compared to those who continued to have a low fitness level eight years later.”

Hardships trying to stay fit

It’s obvious to anyone over 40 and 50, staying fit isn’t as easy as it used to be. At middle age, it seems that our bodies have priorities other than building bigger muscles and looking like a 20-year old. And, let’s not talk about (but we will) the demands of our day-to-day lives that leave little time for anything like exercise.

Overcoming The Hardship

Regardless of age, fitness is always important to our health. However, it’s extremely important to maintain a fitness program during middle age. A healthy active routine can help prevent or substantially slow down a number of health concerns that seemingly crop up suddenly as we enter middle age, including:

Health Concerns

  • Heart disease
  • Bad cholesterol levels
  • Stroke
  • Hypertension

  • Colon and breast cancer
  • Muscle and joint aches
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Depression
  • Bone loss through menopause
  • Just How Much Physical Activity Do We Need to Get Fit?

    Surprisingly, not a lot. According to the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, adults can gain substantial health benefits with just:

  • 2.5 hours (150 minutes) moderate aerobic activity per week. That’s just 21 minutes each day of the week or 50 minutes of activity 3 days a week.
  • Or, just 1.25 hours (75 minutes) of vigorous aerobic activity per week. That’s just 10 minutes each day of the week or just 25 minutes 3 days a week.

  • Physical activity should be at least 10 minutes at a time.