Why it's 100% worth starting exercise and a healthy diet in middle age

It's never too late to get into a new routine of diet and exercise: it could help you live longer, even starting in middle-age

Woman starting exercise in middle age
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It's always said to be easier to start doing exercise and maintaining a healthy diet when we're younger. As we get older, our metabolism slows down, making it harder for us to build muscle and lose weight. If you start when you're younger, you can get in shape – and maintain it – much easier. 

However, that's not to say you shouldn't get started later in life: it's never too late, as one study shows. Published by researchers from the American Heart Association, the study found "regular exercise and a healthy diet for middle-aged adults may be key to achieving optimal cardiometabolic health later in life". 

A healthier heart and metabolism means, of course, a longer, healthier life with less risk of early death from heart disease or obesity-related factors. 

The participants, with an average age of 47, followed the government's physical activity recommendations were recorded as having 51% lower odds of getting metabolic syndrome (the medical term for high body fat, high blood pressure and other signs of oncoming diabetes). Participants who stuck to the dietary guidelines, eating lots of fruit and veg, had 33% lower odds, while those who followed both guidelines had 65% lower odds.

Middle-aged man drinking a smoothie and eating healthy

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Vanessa Xanthakis, Ph.D., one of the study's authors, said: "Health care professionals could use these findings to further promote and emphasize to their patients the benefits of a healthy diet and a regular exercise schedule to avoid the development of numerous chronic health conditions in the present and in later life.

"The earlier people make these lifestyle changes, the more likely they will be to lower their risk of cardiovascular-associated diseases later in life." It just goes to show: it's never too late for a new start.

Exercise improves our mental and physical health. Staying active and eating healthy will improve our mobility, help us keep weight off, reduce the likelihood of heart disease and see off some symptoms of anxiety and depression. Even walking to lose weight helps immensely.

Active middle-aged man doing exercise

(Image credit: Getty images)

There's lots of ways to get moving more and eating healthily which account for being a little older. If you're older, and your joints aren't quite what they used to be, you could look at using one of the best elliptical machines or best exercise bike, which are low-impact exercises designed to protect your joints. Not only is it great for weight loss and cardiovascular health, but it also builds muscle around your joint, reinforcing it if you do decide to go jogging or do HIIT at a later stage.

Diet wise, you an begin to change your eating habits using our portion size guide, allowing you to redefine and avoid overeating. From there, you can take advantage of a litany of supplements, such as our best supplements for joints to keep you active and the best fish oil supplements to get healthy branch-chain amino acids like omega-3, which can reduce your likelihood of getting heart disease.

Matt Evans
Matt Evans

Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and Channel Editor at Fit&Well. He's previously written for titles like Men's Health and Red Bull, and covers all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. 

Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen kickboxer and runner. His top fitness tip? Stretch.