Stay on the ball

Men's Fitness - - Contents -

The se­cret to keep­ing your­self fit and healthy at any age

Get­ting old isn’t so bad when you con­sider the al­ter­na­tive, as Mau­rice Che­va­lier once said. But then he also sang “Thank heaven for lit­tle girls”, so we’re happy to ig­nore his be­lief that the only two op­tions are de­crepi­tude and death. In fact, you can main­tain the brain power and dis­ease-re­sis­tance of a younger man – and the se­cret? No sur­prise: it’s ex­er­cise.

Older peo­ple who did mod­er­ate to in­tense ac­tiv­ity – car­dio or body­weight train­ing – slowed age-re­lated de­cline in think­ing skills by ten years com­pared with those who did lit­tle ex­er­cise, in a 12-year study car­ried out by the Univer­sity of Mi­ami. Neu­rol­o­gist Clin­ton Wright, who led the re­search, points out that us­ing ex­er­cise to com­bat age­ing also helps so­ci­ety, as it’s cheaper and more ac­ces­si­ble than med­i­ca­tion.

And it’s good news if you en­joy a kick­about: play­ing on long af­ter most peo­ple give it up is the per­fect way to stay lean and fit while beat­ing age-re­lated ill­nesses, ac­cord­ing to a new Dan­ish study that mon­i­tored 63- to 75-year-old soc­cer play­ers. “Af­ter four months’ train­ing, car­dio­vas­cu­lar fitness scores im­proved by 15%, in­ter­val work ca­pac­ity in­creased by 43% and func­tional ca­pac­ity by 30%,” said Thomas Rost­gaard An­der­sen of Copen­hagen Univer­sity. “The im­prove­ments con­trib­ute sig­nif­i­cantly to re­duc­ing the risk of de­vel­op­ing heart dis­ease and di­a­betes.”

Yo u m i g h t n o t b e a b l e to match Ryan Giggs for skill, but copy­ing his re­fusal to give up play­ing could pro­tect your health

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