Stay on the ball
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