We often stress the importance of an active and healthy lifestyle for your current well-being, but two new studies show that being fit can have a serious impact on your health for decades. If you’re active now, you’re protecting yourself from muscle weakness later in life. And if you were a member a sports team in high school, researchers say you’ve likely prevented frequent doctor’s visits as you’ve gotten older.
Researchers from Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology teamed up to study the health of World War II veterans who were healthy as young men. The researchers were surprised to find that those who played a high school sport reported visiting the doctor for health concerns fewer times a year.
In addition to less frequent doctor visits, the men who played high school sports were also more likely to be active well into their 70s. In fact, the study found that participation on a high school team was the best indicator that someone would be active later in life.
A second study conducted by investigators from Tokyo University found that exercising in middle age can protects people from sarcopenia, the degenerative loss of skeletal muscle mass, and helps maintain muscle mass and physical performance with age.
Based on these two studies it’s pretty clear that physical activity will positively impact your health now and in the future, and it doesn’t take a ton of effort to gain a ton of benefit. This is good news for the 23 percent of adults in the U.S. are physically inactive, and more than 1 in 4 adults are considered obese. Put in the time now and you’ll reap the rewards for years to come.