Exercise late in life increases seniors’ longevity

By Sheryl Kay • Published: December 2nd, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Seniors, grab your exercise mats. Even at eighty years old, a little workout can be most beneficial.

While physical activity has long been accepted as a road to healthier living, most research has focused on middle-aged populations. Now, in a study recently reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine, findings indicate that older adults who continue to exercise appear to live longer and have a lower risk of disability. Even older people who were starting to exercise for the first time in their lives received benefits.

The study followed almost two-thousand senior citizens who were questioned about their physical activity levels and overall health. Those who engaged in less than four hours per week of physical activity were considered inactive, while those who exercised about four hours weekly or performed dynamic activities such as swimming or jogging at least twice a week were considered physically active.

The researchers found that participants who were physically active were twelve percent less likely to die between ages seventy and seventy-eight, fifteen percent less likely to die between ages seventy-eight and eighty-five, and seventeen percent less likely to die between ages eighty-five and eighty-eight.

In addition, the active group also experienced fewer declines in the capacity to perform daily tasks and reported fewer new instances of loneliness. In fact, not only were these benefits seen with those who had been active all along, they were also found in those who only began exercising after age seventy.

The findings prove once again, it’s never too late for healthy living. Now, where’s that exercise mat?