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New Research Into Exercise & Aging

You know that exercise can help adults maintain health and function. Now new research has shown that even people in their 80s live longer and healthier lives if they are active.

A study published in the September 14 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine (Stessman et al. 2009) focused on 1,861 Jerusalem residents who were 70 years old in 1990. They answered questions about their health and exercise levels through 2008. Researchers found that the 3-year survival rate was about three times higher for the 85-year-olds who exercised than for those who did not. This finding proved true even among previously sedentary adults.

The activity in the study was very doable; exercising 4 hours or more per week was considered enough to make a difference. Short, 15-minute walks a few times per day counted, for instance.

More good news: active 80-year-olds were also less depressed and lonely and found they had a greater ability to perform daily tasks than nonexercisers.

The researchers believe that the study points to the value of exercise for this age group: “[We] clearly support the continued encouragement of physical activity, even among the oldest old. Indeed, it seems that it is never too late to start,” wrote the researchers.

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