No More Excuses: New Study Finds You Can Benefit From Exercise No Matter When You Start

mbg Editorial Assistant By Jamie Schneider
mbg Editorial Assistant
Jamie Schneider is the Editorial Assistant at mindbodygreen with a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan. She's previously written for Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare.

Image by Studio Firma / Stocksy

Ever used the excuse, "I'm too late," or "It's not even worth it anymore," when it comes to exercise? It may be time to come up with a new way to blow off that one friend who keeps begging you to go to the gym together, because scientists have found that exercise may benefit your body no matter what stage of life you start training in.   

Although the notion that exercise is beneficial for the body is by no means a new phenomenon, researchers from the University of Birmingham's School of Sport and Exercise Science found that older individuals who had never been big exercisers had the same ability to build muscle mass as older individuals who were highly trained athletes. 

During the study, published in the journal Frontiers in Physiology, scientists sampled two groups of people: older men in their 70s and 80s who were in tiptop shape, and older men around the same age who never once participated in an exercise regimen. Both groups drank what's known as an "isotope tracer" that would measure how proteins would develop within their muscles. After drinking this isotope beverage, the researchers took muscle biopsies from the two groups in the 48-hour periods before and after they exercised.

In a surprising turn of events, the researchers found that both groups had an equal ability to build muscle after exercising. While one might think that individuals who train their whole lives might have better muscle-building capabilities, perhaps it's not about when you start exercising that helps prevent muscle weakness but about whether you start exercising at all. 

Lead researcher of this study Leigh Breen, Ph.D., says in a news release: "Our study clearly shows that it doesn't matter if you haven't been a regular exerciser throughout your life, you can still derive benefit from exercise whenever you start. Obviously a long-term commitment to good health and exercise is the best approach to achieve whole-body health, but even starting later on in life will help delay age-related frailty."

So, if you thought you might have missed your mark when it comes to exercise and a healthy lifestyle, think again. It's time to get up and get moving because at least starting now is better than never starting at all. Take science's word for it. 

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