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Fitness in Early Life Linked to Health in Old Age

Aug 28th, 2012
Staff Writer

Physical activitiesPhysical fitness has been rumored to affect a huge portion of daily and long-term life and health. But until now, no scientific research has connected midlife fitness and the development of chronic medical issues in old age.

One of the largest archives of medical records is maintained by the Cooper Center Longitudinal Study: the principal asset of The Copper Institute, according to their website. In 1970, Dr. Cooper began recording data from his patients in a shoe box. Today, more than 250,000 records from nearly 100,000 people forms the largest fitness information database in the world.

The latest research from the Cooper Longitudinal Study reveals a new-found effect of fitness when adopted earlier in life.

UT Southwestern assistant professor and the Cooper Study’s senior author Dr. Jarett Berry revealed, “We’ve determined that being fit is not just delaying the inevitable, but it is actually lowering the onset of chronic disease in the final years of life,” according to the UT Southwestern website.

Their database shows that persons in the highest quintile of fitness were associated with a 20% reduction in congestive heart failure, Alzheimer’s disease and colon cancer later in life. The benefits of fitness did not dissipate either. Positive effects lasted until the end of life, leaving fit individuals with fewer chronic illnesses in their final five years, according to the study posted with the Archives of Internal Medicine.

As if the literature supporting an active lifestyle was not substantial enough, this follow-up study improves the backing of claims touting the benefits of physicality.