Looking forward to a retirement of leisure? Best to keep moving

Looking forward to a retirement of leisure? Best to keep moving

If you daydream about a retirement filled with naps on the sofa interrupted by lots of TV watching, you might want to come up with a new distraction.

Scientists say not only are we meant to stay active, we’re meant to keep moving late in life.

Harvard University researchers offer an evolutionary explanation for our need to keep moving: Not only does it keep muscles and joints strong and help ward off disease, it’s part of our evolutionary heritage.

They believe humans evolved, first from apes — who, if we’re being quite honest, basically just laid around digesting their latest meal — but later from hunter-gatherer types who logged some 15,000 steps and more than two hours of physical activity a day.

Our early ape ancestors had a lifespan of 35 to 40 years. But fossil evidence shows that the human hunter-gatherers who lived 40,000 years ago often made it to age 70, well after their reproductive years had ended.

Physical activity is stressful on the body, and that’s the point. Damage to molecules, cells and tissue forces the body to build itself back stronger. Exercise takes away from things that would otherwise preoccupy the body, such as storing excess fat.

And you’ve heard it all before: Exercise lowers the risk of diabetes, cancer, depression and obesity, among other chronic conditions.

Instead of envisioning yourself retired and camped in a recliner, imagine yourself tying your shoelaces and heading out for a long daily walk, learning to play pickleball or picking up golf clubs. When it comes to old age and health, one thing is sure: It’s move it or lose it.

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