• by:
  • July 21st, 2020

This is good news for those who never practiced sports as kids and want to start in older age. According to new scientific research conducted at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, there are significant health benefits to exercising, even if starting in adulthood.


This was shown by the results of the new American study published in the Jama JAMA Network Open in March 2019: playing sports or participating in physical activity is good for health, regardless of the age you start, whether it is during adolescence or adulthood. The beneficial effects range from a decreased risk of mortality linked to cardiovascular diseases and cancer, to decreased risk of infections in general. In this study, American researchers analyzed data from 315,000 adults aged between 50 and 70, and reviewed their habits and physical activity over different periods of life: as teenagers (15-18 years), young adults (35-39), and adults (40-61).

The data showed that the most active individuals (i.e. those who engaged in regular physical activity during each period of their life) presented a lower risk of all-cause mortality (cardio-vascular disease and cancer), compared to inactive individuals. In particular, those who practiced sports or physical activity since adolescence presented a lower risk of death, ranging between 29% and 36%. The striking data is that participants that were only active as adults (40-60 years), but sedentary during adolescence, also presented a lower risk of mortality of 32% to 35%, compared to individuals who were inactive throughout all stages of life.


Previous studies have analyzed the benefits of physical activity carried out for a short period of time during adulthood, which is the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular diseases, respiratory disease, diabetes, cancer, neurological, and psychiatric problems. This was the first study to analyze how exercise can be associated with an increased risk of mortality at different stages of life. In fact, research carried out at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda showed that starting to play sports or exercising as adults protects against the risk of cancer and cardiovascular diseases, similarly to having started at a young age. Now let’s get to those workouts!


What are the recommended activities and the amount of physical activity for those over 60? Here are the recommendations from the American Heart Association to prevent cardiovascular diseases: 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, 5 days a week, for a total of 150 minutes; 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, 3 days a week, for a total of 75 minutes; a combination of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity; or moderate to intense muscle strengthening activity at least 2 days a week. In particular, to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, it’s recommended to do 40 minutes of moderate-intense aerobic activity, 3-4 times a week.

Among the most suitable physical activities are walking (preferably outdoors), swimming, cycling, postural gymnastics, and yoga. Running, in moderation, is also beneficial, as well as exercise in the gym to strengthen the muscles to improve endurance, and stretching to maintain flexibility.


  1. Pedro F. Saint-Maurice et Al. – Association of Leisure-Time Physical Activity Across the Adult Life Course With All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality – March 8, 2019 – JAM
  2. American Heart Association – Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults and Kids

By Fondazione Valter Longo Onlus editorial staff
Fondazione Valter Longo Onlus aims to make scientific dissemination by raising awareness among the scientific and non-scientific community of a healthy lifestyle and proper nutrition through the production of explanatory scientific articles, textual, infographics and multimedia content, and the dissemination of clinical activities scientific, informative and educational aspects of the Foundation and its team of professionals. Dietary pathways, scientific discoveries, clinical studies, treatments and technologies, national and international awareness events, prevention initiatives as well as Longevity recipes are just some of the topics addressed in articles and in-depth interviews published daily and written in collaboration with the Foundation’s specialists. Also active on social networks, Fondazione Valter Longo Onlus editorial staff also offers a monthly newsletter sent to all members, to stay up to date on the most interesting news related to the world of Health, Nutrition and Longevity.
Romina Inés Cervigni
Alessandra Fedato
Maria Liliana Ciraulo
Corinna Montana Lampo
Cristina Villa
Contact: or + 39 02 2513 8307


Join our Newsletter to stay updated with the Foundation projects and new advances in diseases prevention and treatment.