Staying active in middle age boosts women’s health later in life

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A recent study from the University of Sydney, Australia, highlights the long-term benefits of consistent physical activity for middle-aged women.

Published in the open-access journal PLOS Medicine, the research led by Binh Nguyen analyzed data spanning over 15 years and involving more than 11,000 women.

These women, born between 1946 and 1951, participated in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health, which tracked their health-related quality of life and physical activity levels.

The World Health Organization recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week.

The study grouped the participants based on their adherence to these guidelines: those who consistently met the guidelines throughout the study, those who began meeting them at ages 55, 60, or 65, and those who never met the guidelines.

Health-related quality of life was assessed using scores from the Short Form 36 Health Survey, which measures physical and mental well-being through 36 questions.

Interestingly, women who consistently engaged in the recommended level of physical activity scored an average of three points higher on the physical health composite score (PCS) compared to those who did not meet the guidelines.

This trend was also observed in women who started meeting physical activity guidelines at age 55.

However, the study found no significant correlation between physical activity and the mental health composite score (MCS), indicating that the benefits of physical activity were more pronounced in physical health than mental health.

The significance of physical activity on the PCS persisted even after adjusting for socioeconomic factors and pre-existing health conditions. This underscores the potential of regular physical activity to enhance physical functioning, particularly as women age.

The findings contribute to the growing body of evidence suggesting that maintaining or adopting an active lifestyle during middle age can have substantial health benefits.

Even starting to exercise at mid-50s can improve health outcomes, emphasizing the importance of physical activity for aging women.

This study serves as a crucial reminder of the impact of lifestyle choices on health outcomes later in life. By increasing activity levels to meet health guidelines by age 55, women can significantly enhance their physical health and quality of life as they grow older.

If you care about health, please read studies about how Mediterranean diet could protect your brain health, and the best time to take vitamins to prevent heart disease.

For more health information, please see recent studies that olive oil may help you live longer, and vitamin D could help lower the risk of autoimmune diseases.

The research findings can be found in PLoS Medicine.

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