Women: Exercise now for good health later!

A new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine gives further evidence to the linkage between exercise and good health. The study, entitled “Physical Activity at Midlife in Relation to Successful Survival in Women at Age 70 Years or Older”looked at 13,500 women, who were part of the Nurses’ Health Study who had survived to age 70 years or older, without any of 10 major chronic diseases, open heart surgery or cognitive or physical impairment.

The Nurses’ Health Study, just to give a little background, is considered the “grandmother” of women’s health studies and represents the single largest “cohort” study of women, in which the same patients were followed and monitored over many years. It has resulted in more than 265 published scientific papers. The study was established in 1976, with the initial idea of studying the relationship between oral contraceptives, cigarette smoking and the risk of major illnesses. Thanks to the dedication and commitment of the participants, the scope and range of the study has broadened over time to evaluate other lifestyle factors, as well.

Using data from this group, the Harvard-based researchers found that higher physical activity levels at midlife were significantly associated with better odds of successful survival. Regular walking also was found to have a beneficial effect, but not quite as much as more vigorous exercise. Women in the upper 40% of activity were between 1.34 and 1.99 (for the top 20%) timesmore likely to successfully make it to age 70 without major health issues, compared to women in the lowest 20% of activity.

Now, if we could just find a way to make exercise fun!

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