Monday, June 24, 2024

New study strengthens exercise for good health link

A new study of more than 10,000 Australian women has shown a significant link between regular exercise during middle age and physical health later in life. 

The University of Sydney research found it is important for women to be active throughout mid-age to gain the most benefits for physical health in later life. 

Ideally, women should increase their activity levels to meet the guidelines by age 55. 

In the study, researchers used data collected at three-year intervals beginning in 1996 from 11,336 women aged between 47 and 52. 

Participants were classified into three groups: 

  • Those who met World Health Organization (WHO) physical activity guidelines (150 minutes of activity a week) consistently throughout the 15-year period;
  • Those who did not initially meet the guidelines but started to meet them at age 55, 60, or 65;
  • Those who never met the guidelines. 

The effect of physical activity was significant even after controlling for socioeconomic factors and pre-existing health diagnoses. However, there was no significant association between physical activity and mental health. 

“Combined with existing evidence, this study contributes to growing evidence of the benefits of maintaining or adopting an active lifestyle in mid-age,” the authors said. 

“An important public health message is that being active for as many years as possible, even if women start to meet physical activity guidelines in their mid-50s, could have important health benefits in terms of physical health, especially in physical functioning.” 

According to WHO, older adults should do at least 150–300 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity, or at least 75–150 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous intensity activity throughout the week. 

Older adults should also do muscle strengthening activities at moderate or greater intensity that involve all major muscle groups on two or more days a week, as these provide additional health benefits. 

Details of the WHO recommendations can be found here.

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