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Exercise begins at 40

Time stands still for no-one but does time really have the power that we ascribe to it? Does the early bird really get the worm or are there worms enough that they will be around all day? Is he who hesitates really lost or is he more likely to make a better, more informed decision? We panic about time and the loss of it but, in reality, time is on our side and a new study has supported that idea because it seems the benefits of exercise for your heart will still accrue even if you start your exercise program later in life.

In a new study, researchers assessed healthy men aged between 55 and 70 years old. The men fell into three groups: those who had never exercised more than two hours per week in their lifetime, those who exercised at least seven hours a week and started before age 30, and those who exercised over seven hours a week and started after the age of 40.

On average, those who started training before age 30 had been training for 39 years from an average age of 22 and those who started after 40 had been exercising for 18 years from an average age of 48.

The men who started training before age 30 had an average heart rate of 56.8 beats per minute, those who started after 40 had a heart rate of 58.1 bpm, and the men who had never exercised had an average heart rate of 69.7 bpm.

In the group who started before 30, maximal oxygen uptake was 47.3 ml/min/kg, for those starting after 40 it was 44.6 ml/min/kg, and for those who had not exercised it was 33.0 ml/min/kg. The non-exercisers also had much thicker heart blood vessel walls than the two exercise groups while the left ventricle and both atria were larger in the hearts of the exercisers.

All those figures tell us that starting to exercise at or even after the age of 40 does not significantly reduce the benefits for your heart, which means you can scratch one more excuse off the list of what is stopping you beginning your exercise routine. Never say never, because it’s never too late.

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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