A new study lends more argument for getting fit and staying fit as we age. The recent publication found that those who are most fit at age 50 will suffer fewer chronic diseases and increase their healthy years of life.

Melissa Healy of the Los Angeles Times reported about the recent research found in the Archives of Internal Medicine. The findings were collected from a study involving 18,670 men and women. These subjects underwent measurement and fitness tests around their 50th birthdays in 1984. Then, when the subjects enrolled in Medicare at age 65, the researchers followed them for 10 years.

During that 10-year period, the participants were evaluated for chronic diseases – ailments that are costly to treat and impairing to one’s quality of life. Such diseases include heart failure, type 2 diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic kidney disease, Alzheimer’s, and lung and colon cancer.

The individuals who were in the top 20 percent of fitness measurements at age 50 were found to have about one-half the amount of the chronic diseases as those who were in the lowest fitness percentage at age 50. Even those who weren’t in the top 20 percent but higher than those in the lowest fitness category, saw better health during their years enrolled in Medicare.

The study points to longer life span in those who were highly fit in their 50s. While the numbers aren’t very impressive, the study did reveal that those who were fit at age 50 saw many more healthy years than their less fit counterparts.

Among those who have died since the study started, those who were less fit tended to struggle with illnesses for a long period before they died. The highly fit were found to have many years of relative health and only sometimes experienced a brief or ssudden illness that preceded death.

Since modern medicine can keep us alive for about the same amount of time no matter our condition, I’d still prefer the option to be free of disease and have my health in my elder years. If I going to live that long, why not do it outside of a doctor’s office and without the constraints of a disease-inflicted life? Fitness isn’t for the sake of fitting into a bikini, it’s for the sake of longevity; being able to really live all of your days.

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