5 Myths About Aging and Your Health

Lifestyle Changes Late in Life Have No Effect

Some people think that if you don't take care of yourself when you're young, there's nothing you can do to fend off health problems later in life. But that's not true. While taking care of your body with exercise and a good diet from a young age does have lasting benefits, getting a late start on a healthy lifestyle can still do the body a world of good -- no matter how late that start may be.

Researchers at the University of South Carolina studied a group of more than 15,000 adults aged 45 to 64. Over four years, they found that of those studied, the ones who adopted a healthy lifestyle (getting regular exercise, adopting good eating habits, maintaining a normal body weight, not smoking) had lower mortality rates and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease than those who didn't. Furthermore, the study noted that one of the reasons many older adults choose not to adopt a healthy lifestyle is that they believe it's too late for it to have much benefit [source: King].

Exercise, even for the advanced of age, has many benefits, including increased muscle strength and improved mobility. It can also help reduce the pain of arthritis. Even if you've never exercised a day in your life, starting in your later years can improve your health [source: Snyderman].