FRIDAY, March 18, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Get moving, Boomers: a new study finds physical activity in middle age helps keep the body spry for years to come.
"Participation in a physically active lifestyle appears to be critical to preserving high physical function in relatively fit, healthy, middle-aged men and women," conclude researchers at University College London, writing in the current issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
They tracked the ongoing health of nearly 6,400 adults, aged 39 to 63, for nine years, looking at data on the participants' physical function, history of chronic disease, fitness indicators, lifestyle habits, work status and medical history.
Participants were classified into three groups: sufficiently active, insufficiently active or sedentary. Those dubbed "sufficiently active" engaged in at least two and half hours of moderate activity or one hour of vigorous activity per week.
At the end of the study, these most active adults were also least likely to report limitations in physical function, compared with more 'couch-potato' participants, the researchers note. Even people who had poor physical function and chronic illness at the start of the study maintained better physical function if they continued to be active, they found.
The U.S. National Institute on Aging has information about older adults and exercise.