Exercise Is Beneficial To Older Adults

Exercise Is Beneficial To Older Adults


A recent report shows that older adults who maintain or begin any type of physical activity appear to live longer and have a lower risk of disability. 

The authors write:
"Physical activity is a modifiable behavior associated with health, functional status and longevity, and encouraging a physically active lifestyle has become an accepted public health goal." 



 Jochanan Stessman, M.D., and colleagues at Hebrew University Medical Center and Hebrew University Hadassah Medical School, Jerusalem study 1,861 individuals born between 1920 and 1921. During the study participants underwent evaluations in their homes at ages 70, 78 and 85 years, during which they were asked about their physical activity levels. 

The benefits related with physical activity were seen also in those who began exercising between ages 70 and 85. 

Some of the benefits of physical activity were as follows:

1. Physical activity may postpone the spiral of decline that begins with inability to perform daily activities and continues through illness and death

2. Physical activity improves cardiovascular fitness

3. It slows loss of muscle mass

4. Reduces fat, 

5. Improves immunity and

 6. Suppresses inflammation.

The authors write: "Although the mechanism of the survival benefit is most likely multifactorial, one important finding was the sustained protective effect of physical activity against functional decline." 

"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 authors explain. "The clinical ramifications are far reaching. As this rapidly growing sector of the population assumes a prominent position in preventive and public health measures, our findings clearly support the continued encouragement of physical activity, even among the oldest old. Indeed, it seems that it is never too late to start." 



The proportion of participants who were physically active was: 
53.4 percent at age 70 
76.9 percent at age 77 
64 percent at age 85

When compared with those who were sedentary, individuals who were physically active were: 
12 percent less likely to die between ages 70 and 78
15 percent less likely to die between ages 78 and 85
17 percent less likely to die between ages 85 and 88

They were more likely to remain independent and experienced fewer declines in their ability to perform daily tasks. In addition, they reported a smaller number of new instances of loneliness: 
12.2 percent vs. 22.6 percent from ages 70 to 78
26.5 percent vs. 44.1 percent from ages 78 to 85

There were also variations in poor self-rated health: 
77.3 percent vs. 63.3 percent from ages 70 to 78
63.8 percent vs. 82.6 percent from ages 78 to 85


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