Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Do This. Cut Your Risk of Death In Half


Numerous studies have shown that people who exercise lower their risk of heart disease, diabetes, physical disability, and some forms of cancer. Now researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta say that older women who exercise may live longer.

The 12-1/2 year study of more than 7,500 women, all of whom were 65 and older, showed that exercise is good for us no matter what our age. The CDC researchers learned that when women who had been sedentary became more active, they had a 48 percent lower risk of death from any cause than those who remained inactive. The researchers, led by Dr. Edward W. Gregg, also found that those who exercised regularly had a 36 percent lower heart disease risk and a 51 percent lower risk of cancer than those who were sedentary.

"Modest increases in physical activity could have wide-ranging benefits ranging from improved risk factors to reduced disability," the authors wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association. "Our findings suggest these benefits may translate into substantial reductions [in] mortality."

The takeaway: Exercise can help you to live longer. The best exercises for older women are walking and other low-intensity activities.

Exercise can do more than just keep your body fit. It can also keep your mind sharp well into old age. Researchers from the V.A. Medical Center in San Francisco found that adults who were the most fit at the start of a six-year study maintained their mental sharpness over time and did better in tests of their mental function conducted years later than did their less physically fit peers, reports Reuters. "Physical activity appears to be good for the brain as well as the body," study author Dr. Deborah E. Barnes, told Reuters. "Older adults with higher levels of cardiorespiratory fitness experience a slower rate of cognitive decline over time."

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