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Want to stay active well into your twilight years? Start playing sport now

9Coach logo 9Coach 24/09/2017 Sam Downing

Researchers used data from nearly 3500 British men, who were first grilled on their medical history and lifestyle (including their levels and type of physical activity) when aged between 40 and 59. They were followed up on after 12, 16 and 20 years. © Getty Researchers used data from nearly 3500 British men, who were first grilled on their medical history and lifestyle (including their levels and type of physical activity) when aged between 40 and 59. They were followed up on after 12, 16 and 20 years. Throw a ball, pick up a racquet or run around on a field, because in news that should surprise no-one, it’s likely to ensure you’ll keep moving into old age.

Men physically active in their forties and fifties are likely to remain that way in the years beyond — and playing some form of sport is the physical activity most likely to stand the test of time, according to a University College London study published in the journal BMJ Open.

Researchers used data from nearly 3500 British men, who were first grilled on their medical history and lifestyle (including their levels and type of physical activity) when aged between 40 and 59. They were followed up on after 12, 16 and 20 years.

The men active in midlife were nearly three times as likely to still be physically active 20 years later, and those who played sport were even more likely stay active.

Those odds were even higher among the long-time sportsmen: Those who’d played a sport for more than 25 years were almost five times more likely to stay active.

The researchers speculated that passion for a particular sport might be more likely to persist in old age, compared to enjoyment in other types of recreational activities (if you love football you’ll probably keep loving football, whereas if you love gardening you might eventually lose interest, for example).

They added it could also simply be that playing sports in mid-life preps your body, both physically and mentally, for physical activity in old age. Which: der.

“Early engagement in sport and structured exercise may be vital for developing the necessary motor skills needed to establish a lifelong habit for physical activity, said the study’s lead author, epidemiologist Daniel Aggio, in a statement.

“However, it may also be important to provide opportunities to take up other forms of activity, such as walking, during the transition to old age.”


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