Contrary to popular belief, we shouldn’t be slowing down when we hit 50! While some might be counting the days till retirement and days of doing only what they want, that’s not necessarily the best way to live a long life. According to a new study, we should do the opposite if we want to be healthy and bank on physical activity.
A new study out of Harvard is proving older adults should actually do more, not less, as they age. This will ward off diseases like type 2 diabetes, some cancers, and heart disease. The idea comes from studying how humans evolved and seeing that doing so slows down our body’s natural deterioration throughout the years. Physical activity keeps our body working towards positive processes instead.
“It’s a widespread idea in Western societies that as we get older, it’s normal to slow down, do less, and retire,” said Harvard evolutionary biologist Daniel E. Lieberman, the paper’s lead author. “Our message is the reverse: As we get older, it becomes even more important to stay physically active.”
Why Older Adults Need to Stay Active
The researchers called it “the active grandparent hypothesis” and hoped to explore why exactly humans need to stay active in order to live longer. They discovered that the vital repair functions our body goes through after physical activity — whether it’s building back muscle fibers or healing microfractures after a workout — keeps it healthy.
These functions being triggered keeps them working and making our body stronger. The natural responses also increases blood flow and the release of anti-inflammatories. In all, “hurting” our body through exercise is actually the way to keep it stronger.
“The key take-home point is that because we evolved to be active throughout our lives, our bodies need physical activity to age well,” Lieberman wrote. “The key is to do something, and to try to make it enjoyable so you’ll keep doing it. Even small amounts of physical activity — just 10 or 20 minutes a day — substantially lower your risk of mortality.”
Whether it’s taking a walk with a friend or investing in a treadmill so you can do it at home (and still catch your favorite shows!), start trying to do your favorite activities every day. It will really make a difference!