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The Fountain of Youth for Older Women?

An examination of the scientific literature on exercise sheds light on how regular physical activity impacts physical and mental decline and early mortality among postmenopausal women. The researchers also identify which types of exercise may be best for this growing population.

Published in Maturitas: The European Menopause Journal (doi: dx.doi. org/10.1016/j.maturitas.2014.06.010), the report is a research review of relevant literature from 2009 to 2013. Each of the chosen studies involved women aged 50 and older, included an exercise or leisure-time physical activity component, and analyzed physical and mental outcomes.

What did the researchers learn?

“All studies found that physical activity was associated with lower rates of cognitive and physical decline and a significant reduction in all-cause mortality,” the authors reported. “In this review we found that exercise interventions (or lifestyle activities) that improved cardiorespiratory exercise capacity showed the most positive impact on physical health.”

With respect to duration, intensity and frequency, the authors concluded that 30–45 minutes of moderate to high-intensity activity performed five times per week should be sufficient. They emphasized that the exercise must be of “high enough intensity to obtain the positive sustained effects of exercise.”

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