Exercise Benefits Found in the Oldest Old

Posted on October 11, 2009

Health Day News reports that a recent study of seniors found that exercise can boost the longevity and quality of life for the "oldest old." Those who exercised four hours a week or more tended to live longer and experienced fewer declines in their ability to perform tasks.

The research included almost 1,900 people born in 1920 and 1921 who were assessed at ages 70, 78 and 85. Those who did less than four hours of physical activity per week were considered sedentary, while those who exercised about four hours a week, did vigorous activities such as swimming or jogging at least twice a week, or those who got regular physical activity (such as walking at least an hour a day) were considered physically active.

The researchers found that 53.4% of participants were physically active at age 70, 76.9% at age 77, and 64% at age 85. Compared to those who were sedentary, physically active people were 12% less likely to die between ages 70 and 78, 15% less likely to die between ages 78 and 85, and 17% less likely to die between ages 85 and 88.

Dr. Jochanan Stessman and colleagues at Hebrew University Medical Center and Hebrew University Hadassah Medical School in Jerusalem said, "Despite the increasing likelihood of comorbidity, frailty, dependence and ever-shortening life expectancy, remaining and even starting to be physically active increases the likelihood of living longer and staying functionally independent."

The results of the study were published in the September 14 issue of the journal, Archives of Internal Medicine.

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