MIDDLE-aged couch potatoes starting to exercise can lower the risk of early death just as if they had been fit from their teens.
That is the finding of a comprehensive study of 300,000-plus adults
The recommended weekly leisure-time activity — 150 minutes of moderate aerobic work or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise — cuts the risk of early death by up to 43 per cent.
But those who were keen exercisers in early adulthood and then gave up lost all the health benefits they had gained.
Dr Pedro Saint-Maurice, of the National Cancer Institute in the US, said: “We specifically found that being inactive across early adulthood but increasing activity later, at 40 to 61, was associated with the risk reduction in mortality.”
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He added: “Our findings suggest it is not too late for adults to become active.”
The US team said the results will help doctors when they give exercise advice to people who have been inactive during adulthood.
Prof Saint-Maurice said: “These benefits held similarly for men and women and were independent of BMI changes.”
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