Exact age women need to 'get active' by in order to boost quality of life in future

Middle-aged women are being urged to get active or maintain their activity levels by the age of 55 to enhance their quality of life as they age, according to new research.

A study involving over 10,000 Australian women revealed a "significant" connection between regular exercise during middle-age and physical health in later life - even if the exercise routine was not initiated until their mid-50s.

The author of the study, Doctor Binh Nguyen, stated: "Our study shows that it's important for women to be active throughout middle-age to gain the most benefits for physical health in later life.

"Ideally, women should increase their activity levels to meet the guidelines by age 55."

She pointed out that the evidence for a link between physical activity and health-related quality of life has primarily been based on short-term studies.

Dr Nguyen noted that few studies have measured physical activity at more than one point in time and examined the long-term causal effects of exercise.

For this new study, published in the journal PLoS Medicine, the research team used data collected at three-year intervals starting in 1996 from 11,336 Australian women.

Woman exercising
Exercise is strongly recommended throughout middle age for women -Credit:Getty Images/iStockphoto

The participants were born between 1946 and 1951, making them 47 to 52 years-old at the beginning of the study.

The participants were categorised based on whether they consistently met World Health Organisation (WHO) physical activity guidelines, which suggest 150 minutes of activity weekly, during a span of fifteen years. Included in the categories were those who only began meeting these benchmarks at the ages 55, 60 or 65, and those who never came to meet the standards.

The volunteers' physical and mental health was assessed via a 36-question survey focused on their overall well-being.

As per the results, women who consistently achieved the prescribed physical activity or started achieving it at 55 years old tended towards a three-point higher score compared to those not engaging in physical activities as recommended by WHO guidelines.

Hailed as "significant", the effects of physical activity held its ground even when socio-economic factors and pre-existing health complications were brought into the equation.

However, there appeared to be no profound connections between physical workouts and psychological health.

Sharing her perspective on the outcome was Dr Nguyen from the University of Sydney, Australia. According to her: "Combined with existing evidence, this study contributes to growing evidence of the benefits of maintaining or adopting an active lifestyle in mid-age."

Dr Nguyen on further note: "An important public health message is that being active for as many years as possible, even if women start to meet physical activity guidelines in their mid-50s, could have important health benefits in terms of physical health, especially in physical functioning."

Join the Daily Record's WhatsApp community here and get the latest news sent straight to your messages.