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Healthy habits later in adulthood lead to longer life, study finds
06.01.2012Many seniors may think that it is less important for them to exercise and eat a nutritious diet as they grow older. However, new evidence suggests that a healthy lifestyle may be the key to living a long life free of chronic diseases.
For the study, researchers from the University of Michigan and Johns Hopkins University tracked the health of more than 700 women between the ages of 70 and 79 for a period of five years. During this time, the researchers surveyed the participants about how often they exercised and took blood samples to measure carotene levels, which are antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables.
The results showed that participants who were the most physically active and ate the most fruits and vegetables were eight times less likely to die during the study period than participants who had the lowest levels of physical activity and least healthy diets.
There was a time when patients' smoking status was used to gauge their health as they aged. However, the researchers said that with smoking rates dropping, doctors may start looking more closely at their patients' diet and exercise habits. These may come to constitute the most effective measures of overall wellness.
Public health agencies and physicians should develop healthcare and wellness programs aimed at improving diet and exercise habits in older individuals, the researchers said. Given the strength of the association between healthy lifestyles and longevity, the issue is too important to ignore.
Therefore, seniors should not assume that there is little need for exercise or healthy eating. Improving in these areas may have a major impact on overall health and life expectancy.
Categories: Health and Wellness
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