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Elderly with High Activity Levels Live Longer

Climbing stairs, working for pay common among those with high levels of free-living activity

TUESDAY, July 11 (HealthDay News) -- Older adults with higher levels of free-living activity live longer than their less active counterparts, according to a study in the July 12 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Todd M. Manini, Ph.D., of the National Institute on Aging in Bethesda, Md., and colleagues measured total energy expenditure with doubly labeled water for two weeks among 302 high-functioning, community-dwelling adults aged 70 to 82. They also measured participants' resting metabolic rate. Participants were followed an average of 6.15 years, and 55 people died during the study period.

Individuals with the highest expenditure of energy had a significantly lower risk of death compared to their less active counterparts, the study showed, with the absolute risk of death at 12.1 percent in the highest tertile of activity energy expenditure, 17.6 percent among participants in the middle tertile and 24.7 in the lowest tertile. Participants who expended higher amounts of free-living activity energy were more likely to work for pay and to climb stairs, but self-reports of high-intensity exercise, walking, volunteering and caregiving did not differ across the tertiles.

An accompanying editorial calls the study results "striking" and notes that "public health experts should consider how these results can be translated into recommendations for individuals."

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