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Exercise in Later Life Reduces Mortality Risk

Benefits of increased physical activity similar to stopping smoking

FRIDAY, Mar. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Men who increase their level of exercise later in life can bring their mortality risk into line with their counterparts who have constantly exercised, according to a report published online Mar. 5 in BMJ.

Liisa Byberg, Ph.D., of Uppsala University in Uppsala, Sweden, and colleagues conducted a study of 2,205 men who were aged 50 years from 1970 to 1973 and who were followed up at 60, 70, 77 and 82 years.

In groups with low, medium and high levels of physical activity, the absolute mortality rate was 27.1, 23.6 and 18.4 per 1,000 person-years, respectively, the investigators found. Men who increased their level of exercise between the ages of 50 and 60 did not have a lower mortality rate for the first five years, but after 10 years their risk of dying was the same as that of men who had been in the high physical activity group all along, the researchers report.

"An increase in physical activity has the same impact on lowering mortality rate in the long term as smoking cessation. Thus, efforts for promotion of physical activity, even among middle-aged and older men, are important," the authors write. "The effects in other age groups and in women need to be studied. Mechanisms and reasons for an active choice to change physical activity are not fully understood."

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