Even though I’ve dedicated a whole category on this blog to Fitness I’ve only ever posted a couple things directly relating to it. For the uninitiated I’m not what you’d call an expert on these matters, I know many more people more qualified than myself to give proper health advice, but would consider myself an informed individual. I’ve read countless numbers of journals, scientific news sites and rafts of forum posts to figure out the secrets to getting fit and staying that way. Of course in my research I’ll also come across some of the lesser known benefits of exercise and to me they make for some of the most compelling reasons to start exercising regularly.
I mentioned at the end of last year that you can see some pretty amazing benefits if you just stopped sitting for half an hour a day. This came hand in hand with another study that showed as little as 15 minutes worth of moderate exercise per day could add another 3 years to your life with the benefits apparently scaling linearly with more exercise. The effects of exercise appear to get even better if you manage to stay fit between your 30s and 50s, significantly reducing the incident rate of chronic illnesses as you age:
For decades, research has shown that higher cardiorespiratory fitness levels lessen the risk of death, but it previously 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.
“We’ve determined that being fit is not just delaying the inevitable, but it is actually lowering the onset of chronic disease in the final years of life,” said Dr. Jarett Berry, assistant professor of internal medicine and senior author of the study available online in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
In essence this means you can push back the clock on these age related diseases significantly should you keep your fitness level up during mid-life. Their recommendation is a paltry 2.5 hours per week of moderate to intense aerobic activity, something that can be achieved in well under 30 mins per day. This leads to an incredibly increase in your quality of life in later years meaning you’ll spend much less time having to deal with a chronic affliction later in life.
For me it just reinforces the notion that the “slowing down” everyone feels when they get older really is just a perception and not a physical constraint. Indeed all you need to do is to look at the MRIs comparing a 40 and 70 year old triathlete to that of a sedentary individual which shows that lean muscle mass can be preserved as long as you continue your exercise program. The benefits are not only under the skin either as this 75 year old demonstrates:
I remember one of my friends a while ago saying to me that now they were getting close to 30 they could start to feel parts of their body wearing out on them. To put it bluntly I lost my shit at them saying that I’d never been more active or physically fit in my life and put it to them that they were just perceiving that they were slowing down because they weren’t trying to be more active. If a 75 year old can look that good and still be working out at that age then us young whipper snappers who aren’t even half her age really have no excuses.
I could go on but realistically if these kinds of benefits, which can be had with very little time invested, aren’t enough to motivate you then I’m not really sure what will. Sure I’ll give you that it isn’t necessarily the easiest thing to do but it’s very much a thing of habit and once you start doing it regularly you’ll find it incredibly hard to stop. Then later in life when you’re still feeling as awesome at 50 as you did at 30 you’ll know it was worth all the effort.