This Change to Your Workout Routine Can Keep You Fit Into Old Age

Hasan Variawa |

You can be setting yourself up well for your golden years
By Christa Sgobba

Staying active doesn’t have to be boring—and the fun stuff might actually be a lifesaver: Men who play sports are more likely to remain active in their later years than those who engage in other kinds of physical activity, a new study in BMJ Open finds.

In the study, researchers quizzed men on their physical activity—how active and inactive they were, and whether they had high or low participation in sports, walking, or other recreational activities, like gardening, chores, or DIY tasks. Then, they followed them up for 20 years to see how their activity level changed. When the study began, the men averaged in their late 40s, so by the time the study ended, most were past retirement age.

Not surprisingly, guys who were active when the study began were about three times as likely to remain active 20 years later, compared to those who were more sedentary in their earlier years. But being active in sports was the kind of activity that was most strongly linked to continued physical activity: Guys who played sports at baseline—and had done so for 25 years or more—were nearly five times as likely to be active at the end of the 20-year follow up than those who didn’t play sports at the beginning.

That’s important, since maintaining physical activity as you age can help ward off heart disease, as well as physical limitations that can seriously impact your quality of life.

This study shows that long-term participation in sports was definitely protective. So if you’ve played soccer since your school years and continue to play club or social games regularly after work, you’re likely setting yourself up for long-term fitness.

But what if your teen years were spent playing soccer video games rather than actual soccer? That doesn’t mean you’re sunk for your later years: In the study, guys who took up sports within the last four years were still twice as likely to remain active at the end of the study.

So check around your neighbourhood for adult soccer leagues, touch rugby games, or any other kind of sport that’ll get you off the couch.

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