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But the researchers write that even they were surprised by how much adults who got into the exercise game late were able to reduce their mortality. Those who upped their activity in their 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s has mortality rates 32 to 35 percent lower than the control group—just as much as those who exercised from adolescence straight through their 60’s. That was true even after researchers factored in whether people smoked, their educational level, race, alcohol consumption, diet, and several other confounders that would influence mortality and could correlate with physical activity level.
Meanwhile, people who started out quite active but became sedentary as they got older lost nearly all of the benefit of that early activity. Their risk reductions were only about 8 to 14 percent.
Course - Methods - Studies - Correlations - Mortality
Of course, regardless of how thorough their methods are, studies like these are always going to come up a little short. These are correlations. If we wanted to really prove that working out causes a lowered mortality risk, we’d need to take a large bunch of 15-year-olds and assign them a certain amount of exercise to perform per week at every age, follow them until they died, then...
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