Those who are fit in their fifties and into midlife may have a leg up against developing depression as a senior as well as preventing heart disease, a recent study suggests.
There is a well-known connection between depression and cardiovascular disease: people with heart disease are at greater risk for depression, and people who are depressed are at greater risk of heart attack later in life.
Among nearly 18,000 Medicare patients studied, the most fit were 16 percent less likely to develop depression, researchers found. The most fit were also 56 percent less likely to die from heart disease if they developed depression, and 61 percent less likely to die from heart disease if they remained free of depression.
The research is based on an observation study conducted at the Cooper Institute in Dallas.
It is important to note that this was an observational study, so it can't prove being fit prevents depression or that fitness lowers the risk of dying from heart disease if one is diagnosed with depression.
While only 50 percent of Americans meet the minimum guidelines for aerobic activity -- 150 minutes of exercise a week, the good news is that the benefits of exercise kick in regardless of how old you are when you start.