Here’s an Anti-Aging Trick You Can Try Any Time

It starts with putting one foot in front of the other.

Medically reviewed in December 2021

Updated on January 6, 2022

If you're overweight and a little gray on top, we’ve got an anti-aging secret for you. Start it now and you'll increase your odds of being disease-free in your next decade.

The secret? Walking. Or jogging. Or gardening. Or doing just about anything that gets you up off the couch. Research shows that people who are active in middle age enjoy far better health into their later years.

The good habit that gives back
It's never too late in your life to start exercising. In a 2010 study published in Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers tracked the habits of more than 13,000 60-something women. The more fitness-minded ones were much more likely to make it into their 70s free of chronic diseases and serious health problems. This group of more active women also experienced less physical and mental decline over time. Best of all, their odds of living longer and hanging onto their health were bolstered, even if they were overweight.

A 2019 study of over 315,000 middle-aged and elderly adults that appeared in JAMA Network Open found that those who exercised had about a one-third lower risk of death. Amazingly, this risk reduction was about the same whether they were lifelong exercisers or whether they had only begun exercising later in adulthood, between ages 40 to 61. The authors concluded that midlife is not too late to start physical activity.

Another study published in 2019 in Frontiers in Physiology compared tiny samples of muscle in two small groups of men in their 70s and 80s. One group consisted of lifelong athletes, while the others had never done structured exercise. In response to one bout of exercise that included weight training, both groups were found to be able to build muscle equally well.

How to stay on track
Need more reasons to walk? Consider this one: You can do it pretty much any time of day—with little gear—and it has a low risk of injury. Try these tips for getting into a walking groove and getting the most out of your heel-to-toe time:

Article sources open article sources

McKendry J, Shad BJ, Smeuninx B, et al. Comparable Rates of Integrated Myofibrillar Protein Synthesis Between Endurance-Trained Master Athletes and Untrained Older Individuals. Front Physiol. 2019;10:1084. Published 2019 Aug 30.
Sun Q, Townsend MK, Okereke OI, Franco OH, Hu FB, Grodstein F. Physical activity at midlife in relation to successful survival in women at age 70 years or older. Arch Intern Med. 2010;170(2):194-201.
Saint-Maurice PF, Coughlan D, Kelly SP, et al. Association of Leisure-Time Physical Activity Across the Adult Life Course With All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality. JAMA Netw Open. 2019;2(3):e190355.

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