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Good news if you’ve been an exerciser for the past few decades: A new study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that the muscles of older women and men who have exercised for several decades are virtually indistinguishable in many ways from the muscles of healthy 25-year-olds. The participants also had significantly higher aerobic capacities than most people their age, making their biological age some 30 years younger.

Aging obviously takes a toll on our bodies, no matter how healthy we are. But this new research suggests that what we consider to be normal, age-related deterioration may not be normal, and it may not be inevitable.

If you’re over 50 and haven’t been exercising regularly for the past 30-odd years, don’t lose hope. Starting an exercise regimen at any age will improve your health, prevent disease, and extend your life. If you’re already active, stay that way. If you’re just getting started, here are five things you need to know.

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1. Sitting is the new smoking.

Even if you don’t get the recommended amount of exercise each week, you can improve your health and extend your life by moving for three to five minutes every hour. Research shows that sitting for extended periods is as bad for you as smoking, according to an article published in the British Journal of General Practice. Each hour, make a point to get up and move your body.

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2. You need at least 150 minutes a week.

The Centers for Disease Control stresses that for the best health and protection against disease, you need 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week. This adds up to just a half hour a day, five days a week. You can even break your daily exercise down into three ten-minute sessions or two 15-minute sessions without losing any of the benefits. Moderate-intensity exercises include brisk walking, recreational swimming, yoga, and cycling 10 miles per hour.

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3. Two days of strength training each week is ideal.

On top of your 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week, strive to engage in weight training twice a week. Weight training improves muscle, joint, and bone health, and it revs up your metabolism. Strong muscles help protect against falls, and they help prevent exercise injuries.

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4. A personal fitness device can help.

If you have trouble getting motivated to get your exercise in, try using a wearable fitness device that helps you set, track, and achieve your fitness goals. Sometimes, seeing the number of steps you’ve taken or the amount of time you engaged in yoga or swimming can motivate you to strive for more the following day. A fitness device can be incredibly motivating to keep you active.

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5. Good nutrition is the other piece of the puzzle.

Good nutrition is essential for good health, especially when you’re exercising regularly. Your body needs high quality fuel for your workouts, and you can get the nutrients you need through a healthy diet and supplementation.

A good rule of thumb is to eat mostly plants along with lean proteins, including two servings of fish each week for essential omega-3 fatty acids. If you’re not a seafood lover, or if you want more of this powerful antioxidant in your diet, Thrive Naturals Antarctic Krill Oil Complex provides you with 1,500 milligrams of omega-3s to support optimal heart, joint, and brain health.

Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore. Find physical activities you enjoy and engage in them with gusto each week. You’ll soon begin to notice changes in your body composition, stress level and overall mental health, and your body will be that much stronger for a happier, healthier future.

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Sources:

https://www.physiology.org/doi/abs/10.1152/japplphysiol.00174.2018

https://health.gov/paguidelines/second-edition/pdf/Physical_Activity_Guidelines_2nd_edition.pdf#page=55

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5045036/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4838429/