Being physically fit in middle age benefits health in several ways

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A study reveals that it’s about more than how you look in the mirror

In the latest study encouraging consumers to stay physically fit, researchers have now found that doing so can have more than just the obvious health benefits.

A new study found that engaging in regular physical activity throughout middle age can reduce consumers’ risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), while smoking and remaining inactive can have the opposite effect.

Focusing on health

The researchers had over 4,700 middle-aged men participate in the study to determine if regular exercise was effective in reducing the risk of COPD in this age group.

Each participant had their major vitals taken at the start of the study -- height, weight, cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF), and resting blood pressure -- and they also reported on their medical history, smoking habits, physical activity routine, alcohol intake, and occupation.

The participants were monitored from 1970 until the study’s end in 2016, and the researchers were able to track the number of COPD cases and related deaths over the course of the study.

Cardiorespiratory fitness was the most important stat in this study, as it measures how the body processes oxygen during exercise, and it was a prominent indicator of a participant’s likelihood of developing COPD. Having a high cardiorespiratory fitness not only reduced the risk of participants developing COPD, but it also correlated with a delay in both diagnosis and death due to the disease by up to two years.

The researchers found that having a high cardiorespiratory fitness reduced the risk of a COPD diagnosis by over 30 percent, while it reduced the risk of a COPD-related death by over 60 percent when compared to those who had a low cardiorespiratory fitness.

For those that fell in the middle range, they were over 20 percent less likely to be diagnosed with COPD and 35 percent less likely to die from the disease. Though an observational study, the researchers hope that consumers are inspired to stay active throughout middle age, as the positive health benefits are extensive.

“In a population of healthy, employed, Danish men, we showed that good midlife CRF was associated with a very long-term reduced risk of both incident COPD and death from COPD, and a delay to diagnosis and death,” the researchers wrote. “In individuals at risk of developing COPD, fitness enhancing physical activity should be encouraged not only to reduce dyspnea but also to delay development, progression, and death from COPD.”

Making the time to exercise

Another recent study found that regular exercise is the key to longer life, emphasizing the importance of finding time in the day to workout.

Consumers with packed schedules shouldn’t worry, as researchers have found several ways to incorporate exercise into activities that we all do on a regular basis, such as climbing stairs or walking through the mall.

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