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Physical Activity Reduces Mortality in Older Adults

New research suggests that “free-living” activity has a beneficial effect that reduces the risk of mortality among older adults who are generally healthy. Keeping active as an older adult doesn’t necessarily mean taking part in a formal exercise program.

A group of researchers studied energy expenditure in 302 high-functioning older adults 70–82 years over a 2-week period. Participants were followed for an average 6.15 years while investigators kept track of all-cause mortality.

When participants were categorized into tertiles based on activity level, researchers found that those who were in the highest tertile of activity had a significantly lower risk of mortality than those in the lowest activity tertile—less than half the risk. Self-reported high-intensity activities such as exercise, walking, and volunteering did not vary substantially between the groups. But those people who reported higher levels of free-living activity were more likely to work for pay and climb stairs.

"Simply expending energy through any activity may influence survival in older adults," researchers conclude.
Manini TM, Everhart JE, Patel KV, et al.: Daily activity energy expenditure and mortality among older adults.

JAMA 296:171–179, 2006[Abstract/Free Full Text] .

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