Healthy Living in Middle Age Really Pays Off in Senior Years

Woman stands behind a counter chopping vegetablesLive well, live longer.

New research offers more evidence that the mantra rings true: People who got regular exercise and ate a healthy diet in middle age had a reduced risk of serious health problems as seniors.

“Health care professionals could use these findings to further promote and emphasize to their patients the benefits of a healthy diet and a regular exercise schedule to avoid the development of numerous chronic health conditions in the present and in later life,” said study author Vanessa Xanthakis, an assistant professor of medicine and biostatistics in the Section of Preventive Medicine and Epidemiology at Boston University School of Medicine.

Her team analyzed long-term data from nearly 2,400 Americans in a large ongoing U.S. health study to determine how closely they followed U.S. government dietary guidelines and physical activity guidelines. Physical activity guideline advocate at least 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week, such as walking or swimming.

The adults in the study were an average age of 47 when assessed between 2008 and 2011, and in their senior years when assessed in 2016-2019.