Exercise While Young Benefits Later Years

Many research papers show that middle-aged and older women who are physically active are far less likely to suffer from heart attacks, the leading cause of death in women in America today. However, there has been very little research on the effects of physical activity during young adulthood on exercise patterns during middle and later age, and whether they influence heart attack risk in later life. Many years ago, researchers at Harvard Medical School recruited nearly 40,000 healthy female professionals, older than 45 years, for the Women's Health Study. Findings from this ongoing study show that women who exercise when they are younger are far more likely to exercise when they are older and are far less likely to die of heart attacks (Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, August 2005).

Women who exercised 12 months a year during high school years were more than twice as likely to exercise when they became middle aged and were also almost half as likely to suffer a heart attack as women who did not exercise in later life. So if you have young daughters, encourage them to start an exercise program that they can keep the rest of their lives. If you are a middle-aged woman and are not exercising regularly, get started now. It's never to late; even 90-year-old women who begin a supervised exercise program can see dramatic strength gains in as little as six weeks.

Checked 9/29/08

Get our newsletter