In a recently reported study researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center and The Cooper Institute have found that being physically fit during your 30s, 40s, and 50s not only helps extend lifespan, but it also increases the chances of aging healthily, free from chronic illness.
Previous research has shown that high cardiorespiratory fitness levels lessen the risk of death, but until now it had been unknown just how much fitness might affect the burden of chronic disease in the most senior years. A concept known as morbidity compression.
The research found that being fit is not just delaying death, but it is actually reducing the onset of chronic disease in the final years of life.
Scientists examined the data of 18,670 participants in the Cooper Center Longitudinal Study, research that contains more than 250,000 medical records maintained over a 40-year span. The data was linked with the patients' Medicare claims filed later in life from ages 70 to 85.
The analysis showed that when patients increased fitness levels by 20 percent in their midlife years, they decreased their chances of developing chronic diseases - congestive heart failure, Alzheimer's disease, and colon cancer - decades later by 20 percent.
This positive effect continued until the end of life, with more-fit individuals living their final five years of life with fewer chronic diseases. The effects were the same in both men and women.
Article Author: David Beard, Calico's Exercise Physiologist & Healthy Aging Expert