Even if you haven't previously bothered with exercise, getting fit in middle age appears to reshape the landscape of aging. <a href="http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/05/the-benefits-of-middle-age-fitness/">Read more...</a>
Americans are living longer, with our average life expectancy now surpassing 78 years, up from less than 74 years in 1980. But we are not necessarily living better. The incidence of a variety of chronic diseases, like diabetes, cancer and heart disease, has also been growing dramatically, particularly among people who are not yet elderly.
The convergence of those two developments has led to what some researchers have identified as a “lengthening of morbidity.” That means we are spending more years living with chronic disease and ill health — not the outcome that most of us would hope for from a prolonged life span.
We can't hope to live forever ( at least not yet), but we should aim for two things as we age: 1. a "compressed" period of infirmity and 2. the ability to be well enough to qualify for technological advances that improve and prolong life. I fully agree with everything in this article and have found that my own health and physical abilities at age 64 are vastly different than those of people who have not stayed active. I have one quibble with this piece, and it is the final statement. I firmly believe that becoming as active as possible--not simply settling for a walk---has enormous benefit. You can do much more than you think you can. Take that from a former couch potato who after becoming a convert to exercise can still run, aerobicize and play singles with the young 'uns.