Now, scientists at the National Cancer Institute kept records for 21,750 of the volunteers and began grouping them by training session, noting changes over the decades. Did these men and women start exercising more or less often as young adults at the age of 20? Did you start or stop training in middle age? Or have they been active all their life – or vice versa?
Then the researchers compared these groups and at least a year of their eventual Medicare claims. And they found remarkable differences.
Those men and women who reported doing moderate physical activity throughout their adult lives, walking for a few hours most weeks, or doing other physical activity began to save after they turned 65.
Interestingly, another group who said they changed their routines and increased their exercise frequency in their twenties made even more money from their workouts and saved an average of $ 1,874 a year on health care after age 65. These trainees then left their increased middle-aged routines fell and reduced the frequency with which they exercised in their 40s and 50s. They later still spent about $ 860 less on health care than people who almost never exercised.
These data suggest that active behavior at a young age could have particularly strong and persistent effects on our health care costs as we age.
But waiting until middle age to get active also proved beneficial in this study. People who did more exercise after age 40 later spent an average of $ 824 less on health care than their inactive peers.
In other words, “It’s never too late to start exercising,” says Diarmuid Coughlan, a research fellow at Newcastle University in England who led the new study as a research fellow at the National Cancer Institute.