Sure, it's not the most joyous of all occasions. But, turning forty needn't be a harbinger of life on the decline. In fact, with just a bit of care, the decades beyond forty can easily be the most enjoyable period of one's life.
Scientists continue to verify the health benefits of an active lifestyle. Especially as we age. A recent study by researchers at the University of Cambridge finds that even modest exercise helps those over forty prevent stroke.
A little background information will help us gain a bit of perspective. 15 million people worldwide suffer strokes each year. 5 million of these people die, and an additional 5 million are permanently disabled. In the United States, someone suffers a stroke every 45 seconds - someone dies of a stroke every 3 to 4 minutes. In 2004, females accounted for over 60% of the stroke deaths in the U.S.
The researchers examined over 13,000 men and women, ages 40 to 79, between 1993 and 1997. They then followed their health status through 2005.
The researchers assessed the participants' physical abilities in completing everyday tasks: climbing stairs, carrying groceries, kneeling, bending and lifting. They found the more capable individuals were in completing these tasks, the lower their risk of stroke. Those in the top 25% of physical capability were 50% less likely to have a stroke than those in the lowest 25%.
"People who reported better physical health had significantly lower risk of stroke," said study author Phyo Kyaw Myint, MRCP, with the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.
Go ahead - enjoy your fortieth birthday. And, to make sure there are many more, add a bit of stretching, bending, walking, stair climbing, and grocery carrying to your daily routine. Before you know it, you'll be celebrating with a cake blessed with too many candles to count - and, a life full of vibrant years to match.