New study shows remarkable connection between exercise and women’s health

Data from over 10,000 Australian women has unveiled a remarkable connection between regular exercise during middle-age and long-term physical health. What’s truly astonishing is that this positive impact on health was observed even when the exercise routine was initiated as late as the mid-50s.

The study, led by Binh Nguyen and his team from the University of Sydney, Australia, has brought to light the transformative effects of consistent adherence to physical activity guidelines throughout middle-age. Published on May 2 in the open-access journal PLOS Medicine, this research has the potential to revolutionize how women approach their health as they age.

Unlike previous studies which were primarily based on cross-sectional studies and short-term randomized controlled trials, this new research stands out for its comprehensive longitudinal approach. Over a period of fifteen years, data was collected at three-year intervals from 11,336 participants in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health. These women, born between 1946 and 1951, were between 47 to 52 years old at the onset of the study.

The participants were categorized based on their adherence to the WHO physical activity guidelines, which recommend 150 minutes of activity per week. The study revealed that women who consistently met these guidelines, as well as those who began to meet them at the ages of 55, 60, or 65, experienced a significant three-point increase in their physical health composite score (PCS). This boost in physical health was observed even after controlling for socioeconomic factors and pre-existing health diagnoses, emphasizing the profound impact of physical activity on long-term well-being.

The study’s findings highlight a crucial public health message: regardless of when women start, maintaining or adopting an active lifestyle in mid-age can have profound health benefits in terms of physical functioning. The authors stress the importance of women increasing their activity levels to meet the guidelines by the age of 55, emphasizing the immense benefits of being active throughout mid-age to enhance physical health in later life.