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Getting Fit Today Prepares For Tomorrow

Researchers investigate how midlife fitness levels affect the onset of chronic diseases later on in life.

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Are you still not convinced that it’s time for you to get into shape? Or, are you just complacent and think that you don’t need to get into any better shape? Whatever your thought process, if you’re concerned about living a long, healthy life, you know that being active can only help. However, a recent study suggests that being fit and healthy in middle age may be considerably more important to your future than some may think.

In a study recently published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center researchers examined the effects that midlife fitness levels had on the development of eight chronic diseases (including Alzheimer’s, lung or colon cancer, obstructive pulmonary disease, type-2 diabetes, and heart problems). The study followed 18,670 healthy people who later on in life received Medicare coverage between 1999 and 2009. Participants had their fitness levels determined based on the amount of time it took to reach exhaustion while running on a treadmill. Based on those scores, they were divided into five fitness level groupings.

The results revealed that there was a direct connection between midlife fitness levels and the onset and frequency of chronic diseases later on in life. Not surprisingly, the most physically fit group had the lowest incidence of chronic conditions, while the least physically fit group had the highest rate of incidence and the pattern held throughout the groupings. As well, the most physically fit group not only had a lower risk of developing a chronic disease, but they were also able to spend more of their final years living and enjoying their life as a result of having to spend less time tending to nagging medical issues.

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