When is it too late to start exercising?

Created date

October 30th, 2019
An African American woman smiles and checks her pulse after exercising.

It is well known that exercise benefits your body from top to bottom, inside and out. And most experts agree you can reap health benefits no matter when you start—whether you have exercised regularly since age 25 or are just beginning at age 85.

Now, a group of researchers from the University of Birmingham’s School of Sport and Exercise Science in the U.K. may have found concrete evidence to show why it is never too late to start being active.

For this study, the researchers focused on strength training and muscle composition in two groups of men. The first group, called master athletes, were in their 70s and 80s and had exercised their whole lives. In addition, the master athletes were still competing at high levels in their sport. The second group of men were in the same age group but had never engaged in a structured exercise program. 

Both groups participated in a single session of weight training on an exercise machine. Before they began, all subjects had a muscle biopsy to establish a baseline, and then underwent another biopsy two days after the exercise session. 

Interesting results

The researchers expected that the master athletes would be able to build muscle much better because of their prolonged level of fitness. But their results showed that both groups of men were equally able to build muscle in response to the exercise. 

These results demonstrate one reason why it is never too late to start exercising. The researchers hope their results will lead to more studies on exercise benefits for older adults. In addition, they hope studies like theirs will generate interest in establishing specific guidelines for how seniors can build muscle.