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Physical Activity Ups Women's Odds of Healthy Aging

Exercise reduces risk of falls, increases bone mineral density in elderly women

TUESDAY, Jan. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Elderly women who follow a program of exercise are less likely to have falls and can improve bone mineral density compared to their non-exercising counterparts, according to a study in the Jan. 25 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, while another study found that higher levels of physical activity in middle age are associated with better health later in life.

Wolfgang Kemmler, Ph.D., of Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany, and colleagues conducted a study of 246 women who were randomized to either an 18-month exercise program or a wellness program. They found that bone mineral density of the lumbar spine and femoral neck improved and the participants had fewer falls than those in the control group, and that the intervention incurred no extra direct costs.

Qi Sun, M.D., of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues conducted a study of 13,535 nurses who were healthy in 1986 and who were aged 70 years or older between 1995 and 2001. They found that those in the top three quintiles for activity were more likely than those in the lowest quintiles to be free of 10 major chronic diseases, or physical or mental impairment.

"The notion that physical activity can promote successful survival rather than simply extend the lifespan may provide particularly strong motivation for initiating activity," the authors write.

Abstract - Kemmler
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Abstract - Sun
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