14 May 2012:
Cooper and colleagues  have recently reported that cumulative leisure-time physical activity across adulthood may affect physical performance and strength in midlife. In all, 1189 men and 1253 women from the UK Medical Research Council National Survey of Health and Development, born in March 1946, participated in the study. Self-reported leisure-time physical activity at ages 36, 43 and 53 years was assessed and compared to grip strength, standing balance and chair rise times at age 53 years. It was found that more women than men were inactive at ages 36 and 43, whereas activity levels between genders at age 53 did not differ. However, men were stronger and had better physical performance at age 53 than women. Men appeared to have been of a higher educational level and occupational class. More women were never-smokers than men. Health status at age 53 between women and men did not differ. Independent positive effects of physical activity at all ages on chair rise performance and at ages 43 and 53 on standing balance performance were found, whereas physical activity at age 53 was associated only in men with grip strength. This study confirmed the cumulative benefits of physical activity in both men and women across adulthood for physical performance in midlife.