40 is not too late to hit the gym

London, May 11 (IANS) Even if you are above 40, it is not too late to hit the gym as researchers have found that "relatively intense" endurance exercises confer benefits on the heart irrespective of the age at which a person begins fitness training.

"Despite biological changes with age, the heart still seems - even at the age of 40 - amenable to modification by endurance training," said David Matelot from the "Inserm 1099" research unit at the University of Rennes in France.

"Starting at age 40 does not seem to impair the cardiac benefits," he added.

The study was performed with 40 healthy men (without cardiovascular risk factors) aged between 55-70 years who were divided for assessment according to the level of exercise they took and the ages at which they began.

Ten people had never exercised for more than two hours a week throughout their lives, and 30 had exercised for at least seven hours a week for over five years - either beginning their programmes before age 30 or after age 40.

When the researchers tested the men on fitness measures like heart rate and maximal oxygen uptake, both groups of men who trained regularly fared about equally, and significantly better than their peers who had never trained.

"It is never too late to change your way of life and get more physically active," Matelot said.

"Using the stairs rather than the elevator, or gardening regularly, can also be beneficial," said the findings recently presented at the "EuroPRevent Congress" in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.