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Monday, February 8, 2010

Long Term Exercise Help

Women who are more physically active in midlife survive better and longer in old age than their more sedentary counterparts, yet another analysis from that robust dataset, the Nurses Health Study, has concluded. That's in this issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, which Rick and I discuss in detail in the February 5 issue of the podcast.

Data was analyzed for almost 14, 000 nurses who had enrolled in 1985, and who had made it to age 70 or beyond at the 1995-2001 follow-up. Data collected at intake included all types of physical activity and this was graded as to its degree of strenuousness and regularity. A calculation known as 'metabolic equivalent task' or MET, was made for each activity. Surprise! Those women who engaged in more challenging physical activity on a regular basis experienced a reduced level of illness and disability as they aged.

The researchers defined 'successful aging' as being free of 10 chronic disease, no coronary artery bypass surgery, no cognitive impairment, no physical limitations and no mental health limitations. Pretty good. Stay healthy until you die.

This study clearly underscores the many, many benefits of exercise. For women earlier in life we also know these include higher quality sleep, reduced risk of osteoporosis, bone fracture, and hip replacements, and fewer and more manageable menopausal symptoms. Paying it forward really does work.

Other studies in this same issue of the journal highlight how helpful regular exercise is, even for those who are already institutionalized or bedridden. No excuses! These studies also include men as study subjects, so gender doesn't give anyone a pass. Until next week, y'all live well.

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