Participating in high-impact exercise during your teenage and early adult years helps build muscle and burn body fat. You’ve got to stay in the game to keep your muscle mass up and keep body fat in check.

But a study published in the American Journal of Men’s Health suggests regular conditioning and strength training during and following your school years might have a longer-lasting effect. Analyzing the physical histories of 203 male subjects between the ages of 30 and 65, researchers found that exercise associated bone loading during adolescence and young adulthood contributed to greater bone density later in life. Didn’t go out for high school sports? You can still build up muscle and bone density by hitting the gym in middle age.

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