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Even in Your 70s and 80s, It's Never Too Late to Start Exercising

Scientific evidence supporting the benefits of physical activity for the more mature population is sparse, but a new study published in the September 2009 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine found that performing a little daily exercise can extend lifetime expectancy.

Researchers from the Hebrew University Medical Center and Hebrew University Hadassah Medical School in Jerusalem recruited 1,861 individuals that were 70 years old in 1990 when the study began.

The participants underwent home assessments at ages 70, 78, and 85 to determine physical activity levels.

Participants who exercised less than 4 hours weekly were considered sedentary and those who exercised 4 or more hours a week were considered physically active.

Those participants that engaged in vigorous exercise such as jogging or swimming at least twice weekly were also considered physically active as were those who routinely engaged in moderate exercises such as walking for at least an hour daily.

The researchers found that 53% of the participants were physically active at age 70, 77% were active at age 77 and 64% were active at age 85.

By the end of the study, less than 7% of the active adults had died compared to almost 25% of the inactive adults.

The ability to perform everyday tasks and stay independent was also higher among the physically active participants and they reported fewer instances of loneliness.

Even after taking into account factors like smoking and overall health, the trend linking physical activity and longevity still remained.

Another interesting finding was that the participants who began exercising between the ages of 70 and 85 also saw substantial health benefits, though participants who maintained physical activity from beginning to end of the study period lived the longest.

This study shows that it is never too late to start exercising. Keep in mind that it is important to start with low intensity exercises and work your way up.

A good way to start is by spending extra time doing household chores, taking daily walks, gardening or even trying a low intensity exercise like yoga or biking.

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