Definitive CWRU study says exercise, no smoking leads to longer life in adults over 75

CLEVELAND--Researchers at Case Western Reserve University found the first definitive evidence that exercising and not smoking leads to a longer life in adults over the age of 75. Their research was reported in the American Psychosomatic Societys May/June issue of the journal, Psychosomatic Medicine. The current issue focuses on different aspects of aging.

The findings came from a controlled analysis of the first eight years of data collected in a National Institute on Aging-supported, longitudinal study of 1,000 adults over the age of 75, living in two retirement communities in Clearwater, Fla. The researchers also found that those retirees who exercised were not only physically more mobile but mentally healthier with less depression and more exuberance for life. They also continued to set goals and found meaning in their lives.

The researchers looked at self-motivated healthy behaviors that not only included exercising and smoking but also alcohol consumption and regular medical checkups. Factoring out overall health conditions, the last two were inconclusive, while exercise and avoidance of smoking had significant statistical correlations with living longer for the retirees.

All levels of exercise proved beneficial. If you did a little more than someone else, you did better in maintaining physical functioning, says Eva Kahana, CWRU chair of the department of sociology and lead author on the study, Long-Term Impact of Preventative Proactivity on Quality of Life of the Old-Old. Kahana is also the Pierce T. and Elizabeth D. Robson Professor of Humanities and director of the Elderly Care Research Center at CWRU.

She stressed that the retirees were not enrolled in strenuous exercise programs but worked exercising, like walking and golfing, into their lifestyles. She also discovered if health concerns prevented them from one form of exercise, the retirees found alternative exercises to keep fit.


Contact: Susan Griffith
Case Western Reserve University

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