Harvard Men's Health Watch

Never too late: Exercise helps late starters

The Industrial Revolution changed America forever, and the Information Era has changed it still further. More than ever before, men are working with their brains instead of their backs. It's great progress, but it does have unintended consequences, including global economic competition and unprecedented levels of stress. Another consequence is diminished physical activity. Now that most men don't need to exercise to earn their keep, many view exercise as kids' stuff, the fun and games that fill childhood — or used to in the days before video games and flat-screen TVs.

America has become a nation of spectators. That deprives men of the exercise that improves cholesterol levels, lowers blood sugar, burns away body fat, strengthens muscles and bones, improves mood and sleep, and protects against diabetes, dementia, certain cancers, and especially heart attacks and strokes.

Men who stay physically active throughout life reap these benefits and more. But what about men who slide into sloth once they're too old for school sports? Can a late start make up for years of sedentary living?

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