Add in factors like not smoking and having a rich social life, and the study found that elderly people with the healthiest lifestyles lived about 5.5 years longer than those with the worst lifestyles. (The study didn’t include information on diet, a factor that might also make for some significant differences.)
Gisele Wolf-Klein, M.D., of the geriatric education division of the North Shore-LIJ Health System, commented about the study to WebMD.
“It’s been known for a long time that adjusting lifestyle behaviors at any age can be beneficial in terms of health and survival,” she said.
That’s right. Both your health and your very survival can be impacted by working up a sweat each day, and that’s true no matter your age.
Wolf-Klein has one anecdotal example of the good effects of exercise in the elderly. Her mentor was a smoker until he had a massive heart attack after age 70.
“He gave up smoking ‘cold turkey’ after that and began exercising on a stationery bicycle 30 minutes each day,” she said. “He is still doing it at the age of 94.”
No excuses now – let’s get going.
Dr. E. Kirsten Peters, a native of the rural Northwest, was trained as a geologist at Princeton and Harvard. This column is a service of the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences at Washington State University.