If you were big into sports in your youth and fitness is still a huge part of your life, good on you. However, if you were an indoor kid, or if your athleticism stalled out in college, there’s still time to reap longevity benefits from exercising to get in shape in your 40s.
A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that people who take up fitness in their 40s and keep it up into their senior years lower their mortality rate by 35 percent—about on par with lifelong exercisers.
Late fitness bloomers enjoyed a 40 percent decrease in deaths related to heart disease and a 15 percent decline in cancer-related mortality when compared with nonexercisers. Although researchers are still figuring out why, it may be that increasing exercise as you age stimulates the body’s natural defenses just when you need them the most.
If you’re ready to get in shape, ease into it to avoid injury. After all, you’re not a kid anymore.