Why Your 20s Are The Perfect Time To Start Exercising

Photographed by Aaron Richter.
Of course getting your gym time in is important: It helps improve your mood and energy levels, reduces your risk for disease, and can help you feel like a real badass. But if you've been slacking (or simply enjoying other parts of your life to the fullest), we understand. The good news is: Anytime you decide to start exercising, it's a great idea. And a new study suggests you might actually see the most benefit from your fitness routine later in life if you get fit in your 20s.

For the study, published online recently in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, the researchers first gave 2,472 participants a treadmill fitness test between 1985 and 1986. At that point, the participants were all between the ages of 18 and 30, with an average age of about 24. Seven years later, they all took the test again. The researchers then kept tabs on the participants' health (including their risk for heart disease) until 2011.

Results showed that the longer the participants were able to continue the treadmill test, the less likely they were to die 25 years later. Specifically, participants' risk of mortality went up 21% for each minute that they were unable to remain on the treadmill compared to their original test in the '80s. Their risk for death due to heart disease in particular went up 20% for each subtracted minute.

So the take-home message here is that getting fit earlier in life is helpful later in life, too. And this study suggests that your 20s might be a crucial time to get into that exercise routine you've always dreamed of.

Oh, and not to freak you out, but another recent study suggests that not getting into a fitness groove (in favor of couch potato-ing) as a young adult is associated with slower brain function in your later years. So, may we suggest transferring that TV habit to the treadmill?

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