Midlife Exercise Key to Better Health in Women's Later Years,women, urged, stay, improve, quality, life

A new study finds that women who exercise regularly in their 40s and 50s have better physical health outcomes later in life. Women who met physical activity guidelines consistently or started by age 55 had higher physical health scores than inactive peers.

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Waqas Arain
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Midlife Exercise Key to Better Health in Women's Later Years,women, urged, stay, improve, quality, life

Midlife Exercise Key to Better Health in Women's Later Years,women, urged, stay, improve, quality, life

A new study suggests that women who maintain or start regular exercise routines in their 40s and 50s can significantly improve their health-related quality of life down the road. The findings, published in the journal PLOS Medicine, underscore the importance of staying physically active in midlife for better health outcomes later on.

Why this matters: Regular exercise in midlife can have a significant impact on the healthcare system, reducing the burden of age-related diseases and improving overall public health. As the global population ages, promoting physical activity in midlife can help mitigate the economic and social costs associated with an aging population.

Researchers from the University of Sydney analyzed data from over 11,000 participants in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health, tracking their physical activity levels and health measures from 1996 to 2011. The women, born between 1946 and 1951, were classified based on whether they consistently met World Health Organization guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate activity per week, started meeting the guidelines at age 55, 60, or 65, or never met the guidelines.

The may, years, large, study found that women who met the physical activity guidelines consistently or began meeting them by age 55 had higher physical health scores compared to their inactive peers. On average, those who exercised regularly had a three-point higher physical health composite score than those who did not meet the guidelines. The effect remained significant even after controlling for socioeconomic factors and pre-existing health conditions.

"An important public health message is that being active for as many years as possible, even if women start to meet physical activity guidelines in their mid-50s, could have important health benefits in terms of physical health, especially in physical functioning,"thestudy, shows, starting, still, healthauthors wrote. They emphasized that"Ideally, women should increase their activity levels to meet the guidelines by age 55."

The study did not find a significant association between physical activity and mental health composite scores. However, experts note that exercise provides a range of benefits for overall well-being. "Physical activity is one of the best things women can do to keep themselves healthy throughout their lifespan," said Dr. Nicole Yedlinsky, a family medicine and sports medicine physician at The University of Kansas Health System.

For midlife women just starting to become physically active, especially those going through menopause, experts recommend easing into an exercise routine to avoid exacerbating symptoms. "Starting slowly is recommended for menopausal women who are just starting to become physically active," advised Dr. Sherry Ross, an OB-GYN and women's health expert at Providence Saint John's Health Center in California.

The new research contributes to the growing body of evidence highlighting the crucial role of regular physical activity in promoting healthy aging. While more studies are needed to determine if the findings extend to men, the message is clear: prioritizing exercise in midlife can pay significant dividends for women's physical health and functioning in their later years.

Key Takeaways

  • Regular exercise in midlife improves health-related quality of life in older age.
  • Meeting WHO guidelines of 150 minutes/week of moderate activity reduces age-related diseases.
  • Starting exercise by age 55 still yields significant physical health benefits.
  • Easing into exercise is recommended for menopausal women to avoid symptom exacerbation.
  • Prioritizing exercise in midlife promotes healthy aging and physical functioning.