Many people believe that the younger a person is, the more fit he or she will be, but this is often not the case. New research coming out of Norway shows that our age does not determine our physical fitness, but rather the amount of physical activity that we participate in on a regular basis. Many experts also enforce that physical fitness plays a vital role in having good mental health.
Researchers have found that the intensity of exercise may also be more important than duration. By increasing intensity, you can reduce the risk factors that predispose people to cardiovascular problems, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes.
“Physical condition is the most important factor in describing an individual’s overall health, almost like a report card,” said Stian Thoresen Aspenes, a researcher from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s (NTNU) K.G. Jebsen Center of Exercise in Medicine.
The study analyzed the fitness levels of adults from all age groups using information from 4,631 healthy individuals found in the Nord Trondelag Health Study (HUNT), the largest health database in Norway.
Detailed information from the database allowed researchers to compare fitness levels and cardiovascular risk factors. Results suggest the same conclusion found in previous studies—that being fit is not determined by age. Research also showed lower levels of fitness resulted in increased cardiovascular concerns such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Women with low fitness levels were five times more likely to have a series of cardiovascular risks, compared to men who were eight times more likely.
The study also examined high intensity interval training, where four or more short periods of high intensity exercise are followed by periods of low intensity training for the same duration of time. Researchers confirmed this was a quick approach to increasing overall fitness.
This research demonstrates the importance of maintaining physical activity as your age increases. “Even if you were highly active at a young age, you have to keep being active to get the health benefits from it,” said Wisloff.