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In the News: It's Never Too Late To Start Exercising

By , SparkPeople Blogger

When it comes to exercise, we’re all familiar with the saying "It’s never too late to start". Now
new research
is validating that claim, and demonstrating the effects of consistent aerobic exercise in middle age and late in life. A new study in the Archives of Internal Medicine tracked two groups of people- regular runners and those that never exercised- for more than 20 years. The results showed that regular jogging reduced people's risk of disabilities and help them live longer and healthier.

All participants were 50 or older when the study began. Over the years, compared with the never-exercisers, people who exercised regularly (including other aerobic exercises like biking and swimming) showed improved aerobic capacity, better cardiovascular fitness, increased bone mass fewer inflammatory markers, less physical disability, and even improved thinking, learning and memory. They also lived significantly longer. And for runners, the study found no significant difference between the conditions of their joints versus those of their sedentary peers.

As the participants aged into their 70’s and 80’s, the activity level of the exercisers slowed down. But surprisingly, their health benefits continued, meaning that the gap between the exercisers and non-exercisers did not shrink. So even though you might not be able to do the same activities you did 20 years ago, that doesn’t mean you’re not still reaping the health benefits of all of that hard work. Now there’s something to look forward to!
Although this study focused on runners, any high intensity aerobic exercise can produce the same benefits. And if you’re not able to exercise intensely, studies show that you can still benefit (both physically and mentally) from moderate exercise later in life.

SparkPeople’s Senior Health Lifestyle Center has lots of information about being healthy later in life. I encourage you to check it out!

Are you someone who’s been active throughout your life? If not, what made you decide to start when you did? If you’re over 50 like the participants in this study, do you notice a mental and/or physical difference compared with others you know who don’t exercise?

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Thank you for such a positive article! There have been a few recently that made us feel like whatever exercise we do, it isn't enough to make a difference. I will be 60 in about 3 months and I want to be able to get back to where I was a few years ago. Thanks, SP, for all you do! Report
I am 56 and this year decided that I wanted to run. No, I have never wanted to run my entire life. I have always enjoyed walking, but only casually. This past 9 months I have participated in two 5ks and one 15 k runs. I haven't been very disciplined in my training, but still have a strong desire to stay with it. No weight loss from this activity, sad to say. I live rurally, which makes it hard to run for me...but we are moving into town with all kinds of opportunities for walking/running. I feel so much more alive and confident when I am "training" regularly. Maybe that could be my New Year resolution? Report
Good article....for me, it's not about the lenght of life, but the QUALITY of makes no sense to live longer without good health.
Stephanie a/k/a Pepper Report
this is great. i did not get active until my 30's, so glad to know it will benefit me as I get older! This is great motivation Report
More motivation! Thanks! Report
Great article. Report
My mom is 75 years old w/ chronic back problems and pain and she amazes me! She will be doing the SGK Race For The Cure 5K walk/run with me again this year. With all of my learned knowledge (thank you SP), I know I'll be just as active when I reach her age. It's never too late to start AND if you don't move it, you might lose it! Thanks for the another great article! Report
That was a very informative article and gave me something to look forward to.I am glad I started sparkpeople when I did and know the benefits of staying active will far outweigh any of the problems I might have faced had I not started getting active.I am now training to start running and am looking forward to it. Report
I'm 57, and used to be a strong walker, some days walking up to 8 miles a day. For the last 2-1/2 months, I've been struggling with a broken foot. But, for the last 15 years, I've been very sedentary. The walking was more like 15 years ago. I have a lot of "ground to make up" no pun intended, but as soon as this foot is healed, I plan to start walking with a vengeance. Really enjoyed this article. Report
I really enjoyed your article Jen. Report
I am 54 with fibromyalgia and my best exercise now is the pool. I can walk, do strength training, and regular exercises in the water and not hurt as much as if I am on the land. It has saved my life. Report
I was always athletic and active then had my "lazy years" on and off with exercise mixed in. Now I am back to a regular exercising lifestyle and my body remembers how much I liked it and as I get older its a bit harder but still worthwhile. I got up off my backside and started moving again biking and walking and jogging to mix it up and feel so much better. Report
This article like so many others from SparkPeople are great motivators and offer some reflection. I, like many of the previous posts, was never a big fan of exercise and at 35 I find it hard to incorporate into my day. After working all day, coming home to cook dinner and spend time with my kids - I'm exhausted! But, as of late, I've been trying to get a 30-minute walk in along with 15-20 minutes of addt'l exercise. Yes, I could do more but this is a huge start for me. Report
What inspiration!! Am brand-new to SP, but the blogs, the message boards and the motivation SP have is amazing!! Just reading some of these messages are so uplifting - thank you!! Report
I was never an athlete or even liked any kind of physical activity! But by age 54, my body was complaining sooo much that I knew I HAD to do something about it. My heart was telling me that it needed space, tightening and racing without exercise. Just going up and down the stairs at home was painful and tiring. My knees were so bad that I walked humped over a lot of the time.I knew what a doctor would tell me so decided to take control and take care of myself. That's when I came across SparkPeople! After 2 1/2 yrs I'm a new person!! What a change in ME! Few pains and the ones I do occasionally have are the result of overactivity! I LOVE to move. In a group of people my age, I can hardly sit still and hafta get up to move around while most everyone else sits and chats. I was not ever like this before - well, maybe at age 2! HAH! What a difference! It's more than remarkable - it's miraculous!! Report
I have been away from Curves for a few years. Want to go back, no after reading this blog I am going back. Report
Life begins at 50! I never exercised until this year - now I can't imagine a day without it. What a great article that gives me even more reason to stick with it. I love how much energy I have - I quit having headaches - I sleep better - the tape measure is loving me - and the list goes on! Report
Due to heredity and complications from diabetes, I had to have a quintuple cardiac bypass at age 54. I was able to start cardiac rehab and re-discovered my love for exercise, which had been shelved during my 30's and 40's due to raising my children as a single parent and working more than one job. Now I get up every morning and go to the gym at 4:30, doing 30-45 minutes of cardio every day and weight training 2-3 times a week. I not only look better, but my blood pressure is normal, my cholesterol is the best it's been in years (without meds, by the way), and my blood sugars are much better also, with a minimum of insulin. Report
I am 56 and started going to Curves 4 years ago. Last October I got serious about getting healthier, eating right and exercising more. I feel 100% better. Some mornings (6 AM) at Curves I'm the youngest there - the 80 year olds are great to workout with - they have some interesting life stories to tell! Report
In 2006 I stopped smoking after 35 years. I had a few health problems, gained 30 lbs., and was at a loss. I started walking every day, and made some progress, but this year I joined a gym and feel so much better! Thank you for the great artcle. By the way, at 55 I am certainly not the oldest person at my is inspiring to see others make this commitment. Report
I am 55 and now have problems with my feet & sometimes my knees. This has hindered me from the pounding of running or jogging, but I do walk 3 miles per day 6-7 days a week. My husband and I are going to Spain & Portugal for 17 days and I am hoping my feet hold out- I know my body will be able to hold out. Report
I'm 52 and really got back into aerobic exercise 3 years ago when I joined a gym. It feels great to be able to keep up with the 30-year-olds and I definitely see a difference between my energy level and that of coworkers my age. Report
Beautiful article Report
I started spinning a year ago, I am 51, in the 7:30 class I spin in 3x a week ( I spin usually 6 days a week at various times ), I am one of the youngest people and I am the only one who has been spinning a year, everyone else in that room has been spinning and cycling for more than 7 years! All of us do all kinds of other exerise, but for our cardio of choice spinning is it! This group is a mix of men and women about half and half. Last week when we had the tropical storm Fay come through and we could not get to the gym for 2 days because of rain and flooding we all showed up for the 9:15 class, 'jonesing' for a spin fix!
pj Report
My mother is 73 and she does not belong to a gym exercise on purpose but she doesn't drive so she walks everywhere. She takse trains an subways so she goes up and down a lot of stairs, and carries heavy things while doing so. I saw her legs and she had bettr muscle definition than I did! My great grandfather used to ride his bicycle every day. One day he died in his sleep at 88. He had been riding the day before. I hope to stay in shape and continue this legacy of health and longvity of my family. Report
I'm in my fifties ... I turn 55 next week. I used to be very active but really slowed down following a motorcycle accident 13 years ago. When my activity level dropped my weight went up. There were some other factors involved in my weight gain, including medical issues, quitting smoking, and trying to eat my way out of the depression that followed the accident. I started exercising earlier this year after losing a significant amount of weight and finding flab had replaced the fat because I wasn't exercising during the weight loss process. It was slow going at first, but now that I have developed an exercise habit I feel so much better. I have more energy, and a better outlook on life. For years I was told by doctors and fitness experts I would feel better and have more energy if I exercised, but I didn't believe them. I sure wish I had, because I certainly found out they were right. Now I can't imagine not exercising. Report
This is a great article. I'm 55 years old and decided that it was time for me to get my body back in shape. Report
Great article. Report
I started exercising regularly about 18 months ago. I am 51...almost 52. I have never had so much energy as I have now. I have lost 60 pounds and work with a personal trainer once weekly. He is fabulous. I had knee problems when I started but that has cleared up since. I do the "stair monster" 3 or 4 times weekly climbing about 140 flights and work out at the shadow boxing class at my gym once weekly. It is so much fun! I try to get in a bit of time on the ellliptical some also and do weights 3 times weekly. Seems like a lot of time working but I really enjoy the exercise plus have made many new friends since joining the gym! Report
as Dara Torres, the 41 year old Olympic swimmer (won silver these past Olympics) said..... "Dont let age dictate your dreams" Report
My step mom turned 88 on Sunday. She belongs to CURVES and goes 2 times a week. She is my hero and role model :) Report
My Mother is 79 and she uses a treadmill and walk a full block keeping herself active. This is a very good acticle.
I'm 56 now and started running three years ago. I did well in my first race and am training for a marathon in November. My inspiration was having enough energy to play and run around with my grandchildren. We are very active with them, and I love it! I run about 25 miles per week when not training, but more right now. Report
I started doing 5 K's when I turned 50. Before that I never thought too much about exercising but thne surgery at 50 and I felt if I didn't start getting healthy It maybe too late. Now at almost 63 still doing 5K's and burn 7000 calaories a week. YEA Report
I am 76. I have exercised all my life on and off. When I hit my seventies I slowed down, and started to gain weight. I maintained an active life style and did not like the weight gain. Found and joined Spark People and started walking a mile, strength training and Yoga. Sometimes I have a tendency to do to much and then have to recuperate for a few days. I do feel that exercise keeps me active and gives me the ability to take care of myself and my home. In my sixties I worked in the Activity Dept in an Assisted Living Facility I did chair exercises with the patrons daily. I was amazed that many of the 60/70 year olds were unable to do very little exercise. This did give me the determination that I would try to keep myself healthy and fit. Except for a heart attack in 2001, I am healthy and fit. Report
Today is my first day in SparkPeople. I am in a group weight loss program at my gym and have signed up for 12 weeks. After the 2 week trial, I am starting to feel better already! Report
I think it's wonderful for more mature people to exercise. Great article! Report
You all are an inspiration! I am 56 yrs young and been walking 3-4 miles 4-5 days a week for the past 3 years and just recently found a stretching program on PBS that comes on each weekday morning and lasts for 30 mins, I can't believe how good I feel after I am done. It is something between Yoga and Pilates. I would love to hear what kind of fitness program you are all doing, I'm always looking to improve. Report
I'll be 61 in four days, and started exercising last fall. I already feel so much better and have more energy. Report
I think that this article is so true. I mean, I feel stronger than when I was in my 20s. Report
I'm pushing 50 and started running last year...up to 22 miles a week. Anything is possible! Report
I am 61 and 10 month. I just started exercising regularly 2005. I feel so much better. I use an elliptical machine four to five day's a week 53 to 60 min. I was having problem with my knees but that is gone now. Report
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