If you weren’t active in your youth, it’s easy to feel like you’re starting off at a disadvantage. Maintaining fitness is so much easier than gaining it, and It’s painful to feel like you’re the only one struggling at the gym. If you’re in your 40s or 50s and looking to get fit for the first time, you might wonder if it’s even worth the effort.
A new study suggests it is. People who start exercising later in life—and yes, we mean as late as your 50s—reduce their mortality risk just as much as people who’ve been exercising their whole lives as compared to folks who are completely sedentary. What’s more, in this new study that held true regardless of how a person’s BMI fluctuated throughout their lives.
The study, which was published in JAMA Network Open, shows how powerful exercise is and why it’s so important to be active late into your life. Researchers looked at 315,059 participants in total and separated them into three basic experimental groups: those who were active throughout their lives, those who were inactive as youngsters but became active as they got older, and those who were active youths who became less active in their later years.