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Middle-aged fitness worth the effort

Fri March 6th, 2009

Middle-aged men who step up their exercise rates can reap dividends in later life, researchers reported today.

It takes about ten years for the effort to bear fruit in better health, according to a Swedish study reported in the British Medical Journal.

The total increase in life expectancy was about two years. The men lived some 2.3 years longer on average than their contemporaries who stayed sedentary and about a year longer than people who exercised through walking and other moderate activity.

The researchers, from Uppsala University, said the impact of taking up exercise was about the same as giving up smoking.

The study involved some 2,205 men aged 50 in Uppsala, Sweden, and started in 1970.

The researchers defined high physical activity as at least three hours of recreational sport or heavy gardening a week.

The findings were welcomed by the British Heart Foundation as reinforcing existing knowledge.

Heart nurse Cathy Ross said: "This study further illustrates how increasing the level of physical activity can reduce the number of people who die prematurely. It shows this reduction is similar to smokers kicking the habit.

"The study adds support to what we already know, which is that people who are physically active are half as likely to get cardiovascular disease as those that are inactive.

"Being active at any age helps control your weight, reduce blood pressure and cholesterol and will provide long term benefits for your heart health and general health."

BMJ online 2009, 338:b688: doi:10.1136/bmj.b688

Tags: UK News | Heart Health | Fitness | Menís Health | Europe

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