If you want to be physically fit decades down the road—and lower your risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and dementia—take up tennis, join a soccer league, or train for a triathlon now. Middle-aged men who do any kind of physical activity are three times more likely than sedentary guys to be active when they’re older, according to a study in BMJ Open. It makes sense. If you get into a sport, work to improve your skills, and find friends who share your passion, you’re more likely to keep it up as you age.
“Another possibility is that sports participation in midlife may help maintain physical function later, increasing your physical and psychological readiness for activity in old age,” lead researcher Daniel Aggio says. Try revisiting the game you played as a kid, since your body probably remembers the necessary motor skills and you won’t have to start from scratch.