Even if you haven't been physically active, it's never too late to start reaping the benefits of exercise, a new study shows.
Older adults who started to exercise even once a week -- even after being inactive -- were three to four times more likely to age healthily compared to their continuously inactive peers. British researchers studied around 3,450 men and women with an average age of 64 from the English Longitudinal Study on Ageing. Starting in 2002, the study tracked the participants biannually for over eight years, measuring the frequency and intensity of their physical activity.
At the end of the study researchers evaluated healthy aging by looking at the occurrence of chronic diseases like diabetes and Alzheimer's, overall mental health, and any physical disabilities.
They found that participants who had sustained regular physical activity over the duration of the study were seven times more likely than entirely inactive participants to age healthily.
"This study supports public health initiatives designed to engage older adults in physical activity, even those who are of advanced age," the authors wrote.
Over the course of the study, one in 10 had become physically active, making them over three times as likely to age healthily. The participants self-reported their activity levels twice a year and also noted any changes in activity, such as becoming more or less active.
The findings of this study add to compelling research which points to exercise as one of the keys to maintaining good health with aging. Just earlier this month researchers found that cardiovascular exercise doesn't just help with heart health, it can also help older adults improve their memory and preserve their cognitive abilities. Another study showed that even simple physical activity, like gardening or fruit-picking, can help older adults reduce their risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Click through the slideshow below for some great exercise ideas for post 50s.