Being physically fit after age 60 may extend your life, regardless of your body’s fat content, according to a new study.
Scientists looked at more than 2,600 men and women, age 60 or older, who were involved in an NIH-funded study of exercise. The seniors walked on a treadmill to rate their fitness levels. Their fat levels were assessed by looking at their waist measurements, percent body fat and their weight to height ratio.
After a follow-up period that averaged 12 years, 450 participants had died. They were generally older than survivors and also had lower fitness levels. The percent of body fat did not appear to be related to the risk of dying. However, people who were more fit, had a lower body mass index or smaller waist measurements were less likely to die during the study. The researchers also found that least-fit adults had a death rate 4 times higher than the fittest group.
The findings suggest that you don’t need to be thin to benefit from regular physical activity. Regular activity—like brisk walking for at least 30 minutes most days of the week—will keep most older adults out of the lowest fitness category and possibly help prolong their lives. A key to healthy aging is being physically active, regardless of your weight.
To get a free copy of Exercise: A Guide from the National Institute on Aging, click on the link in the side box or call 1-800-222-2225.