Landmark 35-year study proves active lifestyle and wholesome diet are key to healthier old age

Participants had to report every five years on their diet and exercise routine

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Indy Lifestyle Online

If you have been looking for a reason to skip the gym today then bad luck, as a 35-year-long study has revealed that a healthier lifestyle could prepare for good health in old age.

A total of 2,500 men in the 1979 HALCyon experiment were asked to eat well, take regular exercise, drink less alcohol, keep trim and never smoke.

Only 25 participants stuck to the health regime more than three decades later and they have dramatically cut their risk of cancers, diabetes, heart-attack, stroke and dementia.

Their overall fitness was far better than the 2,475 pensioners that had given up on the experiment, part funded by Alzheimer's Society, and the development of heart disease was slowed by up to 12 years and dementia six years.

The volunteers, all from Caerphilly in Wales, gave researchers regular updates every five years on their diet and levels of recommended physical activity such as walking, cycling and sports.


Ray Grace, 80, travels all over Wales and the West Country to referee American football matches and jogs two miles every day in his village of Llanbradach.

He told The Telegraph: "I'll go on as long as I am able to. I've been refereeing for nearly 30 years now and still get a thrill out of it."

Study leader Professor Peter Elwood, of Cardiff University, had said: "As a nation, we must wake up to the preventive power of living a healthy life."