Behavioral Science

Are Older People Who Exercise Healthier Than Young People Who Don’t?

Written by Amber

Which is healthier: a senior who exercises or a twenty-something who sits at a desk all day?

Only one of those two is more likely to retain muscle mass and prevent disease, according to new research from the University of Birmingham.

Science Daily writes:

A group of older people who have exercised all of their lives were compared to a group of similarly aged adults and younger adults who do not exercise regularly. The results showed that those who have exercised regularly defied the aging process, having the immunity, muscle mass, and cholesterol levels of a young person.

This is in line with other recent studies into aging and exercise. Exercising regularly as you age keeps the body healthy, young, and helps you improve your personal wellness too! Not only will you be healthier than people that are younger than you, but you may live longer too than your age-fellows too! And it can have positive effects on everything from your muscles and fraility, to disease and inflammation prevention, and even how well your brain retains information. The challenge is that only 23% of Americans get enough exercise on a daily basis!

“We now have strong evidence that encouraging people to commit to regular exercise throughout their lives is a viable solution to the problem that we are living longer but not healthier,” says study co-author Dr. Janet Lord.

Keeping it Consistent

What does this mean for your wellness program? In all of these studies, the common thread is consistent activity. For best results, you have to get people engaged all the time, not just once in a while. This is especially important for older populations, as well as those sedentary twenty-somethings.

You can encourage consistent, year-round activity in a few ways:

Reward Activities

Small but regular rewards are an easy way to encourage healthy habits. Employees will feel encouraged from getting something along the way, instead of trying to build up to earn one large payoff at the end of the year.

Encourage Workout Buddies

Collaboration is important in the office and outside. Having a workout partner can help beginners who may feel intimidated to begin exercising, and it helps accountability so people keep going week after week. (That’s the philosophy behind our Partners in Fitness group challenge!)

Promote a Culture of Wellness

Supporting healthier lifestyles in the office can motivate employees to regularly exercise on their own. Wellness challenges, nutritional snacks, and informative events are all ways to remind staff how valuable it is to invest in fitness.


What does this look like in practice? Talk to an IncentFit wellness specialist about building a program to reward and motivate your employees. We’ve got ideas to help your team get moving little by little.