The benefits of physical activity accumulate across a lifetime, according to a new study published in the October issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Researchers in England and Australia examined the associations of leisure time physical activity across adulthood with physical performance and strength in midlife in a group of British individuals followed since birth in March 1946.
“Maintaining physical performance and muscle strength with age is important given that lower levels in older populations are associated with increased risk of subsequent health problems, loss of independence, and shorter survival times,” says lead investigator Rachel Cooper, Ph.D., of the Medical Research Council Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing.
“As the global population ages,” Cooper continues, “there is a growing need to identify modifiable factors across life that influence physical performance and strength in later life. We found that there are cumulative benefits of physical activity across adulthood on physical performance in midlife. Increased activity should be promoted early in adulthood to ensure the maintenance of physical performance in later life. Promotion of leisure time activity is likely to become increasingly important in younger populations as people’s daily routines become more sedentary.”