A new study published Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine finds that women who get moderate amounts of exercise in middle-age tend to be much healthier at 70 and beyond. Active women cross-over into the senior decades with far fewer chronic diseases and greater mental acuity.
Picking up the pace to a brisk clip could be enough to help ward off disease as we age.
Picking up the pace to a brisk clip could be enough to help ward off disease as we age. iStockphoto.com
So, you may wonder, how much exercise? Well, there's good news for the 85 percent of Americans who don't have a regular, vigorous work-out routine. Turns out, walking is enough. And the brisker, the better.
Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health evaluated the health of more than 13,000 women who had reached the age of 70.
They found that women who regularly walked at a moderate pace had much higher odds of staving off disease and aging successfully than their counterparts who didn't exert themselves beyond leisurely, easy walking.
And there's evidence that picking up the pace — beyond just moderate intensity — may be very beneficial. The women who walked at a very brisk clip increased their odds of successful aging by 3-fold.
The benefits of exercise held up for women across weight-ranges, from thin to heavy.
And if walking isn't your shtick, prior research shows that gentle cycling with quick bursts of intensity is also beneficial. Research on interval training shows that bringing the heart-rate up for short periods of time during a 20-minutes ride can be an efficient way to increase fitness quickly.
The Archives' study adds to a growing body of evidence showing that regular, moderate-intensity exercise helps protect against a range of conditions — from osteoporosis, to cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, and even cognitive declines.