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If you play sports in middle age, there is less risk of an early death

If you play sports in middle age, you are less likely to die prematurely – even if you have been inactive all your life.

  • Two and a half hours of training per week "could prevent 46 percent of deaths"
  • For people between the ages of 40 and 79, deaths from heart disease were reduced by 30% and cancer by 11%.
  • The results were similar in people with and without medical history

If you play sports in middle age, you are less likely to die prematurely – even if you have been inactive all your life.

A study of nearly 15,000 Britons showed that those who exercise for two and a half hours per week significantly reduce their risk of death over the next 13 years.

For those who were previously inactive, the risk of early death decreased by a quarter, the researchers said.

However, the benefits were greatest for those who had already trained and became more active over time. The risk of premature death fell by 42 percent.

If you have been exercising for only two and a half hours a week in recent years, you will be less likely to die prematurely, even if you have been inactive all your life

If you have been exercising for only two and a half hours a week in recent years, you will be less likely to die prematurely, even if you have been inactive all your life

Researchers say the results show it's never too late to get fit, even after a life of inactivity.

The NHS recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week, eg. Cycling, brisk walking, swimming or gardening.

But Public Health England says more than a third of English adults do not follow the advice.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge followed 14,599 men and women from Norfolk for eight years to investigate how their activity levels are changing.

The team then monitored them over the next 13 years to see how the changes impacted their health.

During the study period, there were 3,148 deaths, including 950 for cardiovascular disease and 1,091 for cancer.

The authors, who wrote in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), said the results give hope to the millions of middle-aged British who are not getting enough exercise.

Why is not everything sitting bad?

We are often told that our couch potato lifestyle leads us to an early grave.

However, according to scientists, not all types of sitting are equally bad for you.

One study found that sitting on the sofa in front of the TV, although causing health problems, did not have the same effect.

US researchers studied the habits of 3,500 people and compared them to their health. They found that those who watched TV more than four hours a day had a 50 percent higher risk of heart disease and early death. But there was no difference between those who sat the longest and least of all at work.

Fortunately, they found that moderate training can eliminate the harmful effects of loitering.

Dr. Keith Diaz of Columbia University said, "Taking a quick break from the TV to go for a walk might be enough."

They said: "These results are encouraging, not least for middle-aged and older adults with existing cardiovascular disease and cancer who, through more active activity, still achieve significant life-expectancy benefits and the overall health benefits of physical activity can support.

"In addition to shifting the population towards compliance with minimum physical activity recommendations, public health efforts should also focus on maintaining physical activity levels, in particular to prevent decreases in middle to late age."

June Davison, Senior Cardiac Nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said, "It's never too late to take action. regardless of how little you have trained in the past and whether or not you have heart disease.

"The potential benefits of having regular physical activity in middle age and beyond are enormous. Public health strategies need to focus on preventing the decline in physical activity in these age groups.

"To keep your heart healthy, adults should seek a 150-minute weekly activity with moderate intensity. For some people this may seem like a lot, but it can be spread out in short 10-minute sessions throughout the day, and these add up easily!

"Go to the shops instead of driving, or go up the stairs wherever possible, and interrupt long periods of sitting, every half hour with five minutes of exercise."


According to the NHS, adults between the ages of 19 and 64, to stay healthy or improve their health, should be active daily and do the following:

– At least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activities such as cycling or brisk walking per week


– 75 minutes of intense aerobic activities such as running or a game of tennis for singles per week


– a mix of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity per week – for example, 2 x 30-minute runs plus 30 minutes of brisk walking equals 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity and

A good rule is that one minute of intense activity provides the same health benefits as two minutes of moderate activity.

One way to perform the recommended 150 minutes of weekly physical activity is to do 30 minutes on 5 days a week.

All adults should also stop long periods of sitting with mild activity.

What counts as moderate aerobic activity?

Examples of activities that require moderate effort for most people are:

– brisk walking

– Water aerobics

– Riding a bike on level ground or with few hills

– Double tennis

– push a lawnmower

– Hike

– Skateboarding

– Roller blading

– Volleyball

– Basketball

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