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Sustained Physical Activity Key Ingredient in Healthy Aging
Benefits observed even if physical activity starts later in life

TUESDAY, Nov. 26, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Regular physical activity increases the likelihood of remaining healthy with age, even if started later in life, according to a study published online Nov. 25 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Mark Hamer, Ph.D., from University College London, and colleagues examined the association between physical activity (self-reported at baseline) and healthy aging (lack of major chronic disease, depressive symptoms, and physical or cognitive impairment over the next eight years) in 3,454 healthy men and women (mean age, 63.7 years).

The researchers found that 19.3 percent of subjects met the criteria for healthy aging. After adjusting for various factors, healthy aging was more common among those who were physically active at least once a week compared with those who were inactive (odds ratios [ORs]: 2.67 for moderate activity and 3.53 for vigorous activity). Healthy aging was also more common among those who became active (OR, 3.37) or remained active (OR, 7.68) compared with those who remained inactive during follow-up.

"Sustained physical activity in older age is associated with improved overall health," Hamer and colleagues conclude. "Significant health benefits were even seen among participants who became physically active relatively late in life."

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