The adults in the study were an average age of 47 when assessed between 2008 and 2011, and in their senior years when assessed in 2016-2019.
In middle age, 28% of the adults followed both the physical activity and dietary guidelines, while 47% followed only one of the guidelines.
Adhering to the physical activity and dietary guidelines in middle age was associated with a lower chance of developing the metabolic syndrome and other serious health conditions later in life, according to the study published March 31 in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
“The earlier people make these lifestyle changes, the more likely they will be to lower their risk of cardiovascular-associated diseases later in life,” Xanthakis said in a journal news release.
Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of health conditions — including excess fat around the waist, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, high blood sugar, abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels — that increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
The risk of metabolic syndrome was 51% lower among those who followed the physical activity recommendations alone, 33% lower in those who followed the dietary guidelines alone, and 65% lower in those who followed both guidelines.
All of the adults in the study were white, so the findings can’t be generalized to other racial/ethnic groups, and further studies that include a range of racial/ethnic groups are needed, the researchers said.
The American Academy of Family Physicians offers resources on healthy living.
SOURCE: Journal of the American Heart Association, news release, March, 31, 2021