A recent study has been published by Boston University, which shows that exercising at midlife can actually boost the size of the brain. Middle age fitness is not only important for remaining physically fit, but it also increases mental sharpness at a rate that is greater at that time of life than in any other. The paper reporting on the study was published in the Neurology journal and indicated that regular physical activity has a direct impact on reducing cognitive decline, as well.
The research began back in 1996, at which time there were 1,500 participants who took a treadmill test. Among these subjects, the average age was 40 years old. None of those people had been diagnosed with any form of heart disease or dementia. They were each tested for these conditions at the time that the initial baseline records were taken.
The participants took another test 20 years after the initial baselines were recorded. They involved the same treadmill test as well as MRI brain scans. What the results concluded was that the people who did very well on the treadmill test had larger brains and those who didn't do as well on the treadmill test had smaller brains. Among those who didn't do as well and who had smaller brains, there was also a higher occurrence of the development of heart problems.
That said, another study – this one conducted in Sweden – tracked populations of men throughout their entire lifetimes. What they revealed was that the activity level adopted by people after the age of 40 years has a greater impact on long term health than the individual's activity level before the age of 30 years. The men who lived the longest and healthiest lives were those who had embraced a "healthy for life" eating and exercising attitude.
What these studies have shown is that it is never too late to take on an active lifestyle and to make middle age fitness a priority. That said, by middle age and afterward, it is even more important to adopt these healthful habits than it has been in younger life. It is at this time of life that will have the greatest impact on the quality of life the individual will experience throughout the rest of their lives.
Therefore, from mid-life, right through senior life, it is highly recommended that people walk more, track their activity levels in order to better understand them and take part in group fitness activities, whenever possible, in order to boost the appeal of keeping up with them. Middle age fitness matters and starting right away will make a difference.