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Running Regularly May Lead To Longer Life

You don't have to be a doctor to know that regular exercise can slow the effects of aging and helps to prevent disease and injury. Yet many adults report that they get very little physical activity, especially as they get older. Two new studies published this week may provide older adults an extra incentive to try and get more exercise.

The first study is published in the August 11 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine and found that older adults who run regularly cut their risk of death in half compared to those who don't run.<

In the study, researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine monitored 538 runners over age 50 for 21 years. The runners were part of a national running club and each filled out an annual questionnaire about their ability to perform everyday activities like dressing, bathing and holding objects. The participants were compared to a control group of 423 non-runners who also filled out the survey each year.

At the conclusion of the study the group of runners had decreased their running time from about four hours per week to 76 minutes per week. Researchers used national death records to identify that 34% of the non-runners had died while only 15% of the runners had passed away. While everyone in the study became more disabled with age, the runner's disabilities started later in life than the non runners.

In the second study, researchers from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and UCLA found that exercise could play an important role in lowering blood pressure.

Researchers collected data on 17,474 people who participated in the Third Nationals Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for their study. Among the participants, 4,686 reported having high blood pressure.

The results, published in the summer issue of Ethnicity and Disease found that 71% of those who reported having high blood pressure saw a reduction when they increased their activity level.

Both studies add to the mountain of data that shows even mild increases in physical activity levels can have a profound impact on overall health. Previous studies have shown that various forms of exercise can help reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, high cholesterol and neuro-degenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
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