New research published on March 8 via the JAMA Network claims that starting workouts in middle age, despite previous years of sedentary behavior, may extend the lifespan of adult Americans.
Researchers reported that previously sedentary adults had a 35 percent reduced risk of all-cause mortality when they became active between age 40 and age 61. This group was 43 percent less likely to die of heart disease and 16 percent less likely to die of cancer.
Another great finding by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) reported in their Fitness Journal dated March 2019 (Elyza E. Montano, MS, Jamie M. Keith, Christina A. Buchanan, PhD, and Lance C. Dalleck, PhD, with Daniel J. Green) is that older adults (aged 50-65) responded to exercise in a similar way to their younger counterparts. Older individuals in this study adapted to cardiorespiratory and functional/resistance training and improved health-related components of physical fitness to the same relative extent as younger individuals. The one exception is that older individuals had a more difficult time increasing lower body strength to the same degree as the younger group. This may be due to the loss of type II fast twitch muscle fibers simply as the result of aging. Regardless, what this research concludes is that people are never too old to see statistically significant strength and cardiorespiratory gains as a result of a well designed exercise program.