If you've reached middle age -- or passed it -- and never exercised regularly, it's not too late to start, a new study suggests. Maintaining the exercise habit, or taking up light to moderate physical activity later in life, reduces overall mortality and the risk of heart attack in older men, including those with confirmed cardiovascular disease.
Men who described themselves as inactive or occasionally active, but who had begun "at least light activity" by the time of the second questionnaire, reduced their risk of death by about 45%. Even men with pre-existing cardiovascular disease appeared to benefit from exercising. Regular, moderate exercise seems to confer the greatest benefit. Light physical activities included walking, gardening, swimming, and cycling. More vigorous activities, such as participating in sports, "do not appear to give any additional benefit to health for older men, and our findings suggest that frequent light physical activity may be more appropriate."
The Lancet May 30,1998;351:1603-1608.
COMMENT: As some of you know, I first began my exercise program thirty years ago, which is when Dr. Ken Cooper first published the book "Aerobics." I am a firm believer in exercise. However, many people, do not understand that it can do more harm than good. I did not realize this until 5 years ago. This article tends to confirm the concept that we really don't need to run marathons or even run to stay healthy. However, regular and consistent exercising will help keep you healthy. My personal current favorite is gardening supplemented with running and cycling. If you are older than 50, you should consider Oriental exercises like Tai Chi or QiGong which are absolutely wonderful at improving health. When my schedule clears up, I will definitely be incorporating these into my program.