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Study: Exercise helps prevent chronic disease in the final years of life

Midlife fitness helps prevent chronic disease at the end of life, according to researchers at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Researchers are well aware that excellent cardiorespiratory fitness levels lower the risk of disease, but now they believe that fitness plays an important role in preventing chronic disease in the “final years of life.”

“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,” said Dr. Jarett Berry, assistant professor of internal medicine and senior author of the study, in a statement.

Researchers compared the medical records of more than 18,670 people over a 40-year time period, linking the data with the patients’ Medicare claims filed between the ages of 70 to 85. Researchers found that patients who exercised while in their 30s, 40s and 50s lowered their chances of suffering from chronic diseases in their 70s and 80s by 20 percent.

“What sets this study apart is that it focuses on the relationship between midlife fitness and quality of life in later years. Fitter individuals aged well with fewer chronic illnesses to impact their quality of life,” said Dr. Benjamin Willis of The Cooper Institute, first author on the study, in a statement.

Researchers say that the data indicates that being in excellent cardiovascular fitness means one is likely to live longer and enjoy a higher quality of life. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that adults get 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week to stay healthy and avoid chronic illnesses.

The study is available online in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.