Four new studies published in the 25 January issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine connect exercise with healthy aging, via lowered risk or slower progression of age-related conditions or through in improvements in overall health in older age. They discuss linkages between physical activity and cognitive function, bone density, and overall haelth.

In the accompanying editorial, Drs Jeff Williamson and Marco Pahor, of the University of Florida, note that previous studies have linked exercise to beneficial effects on a range of conditions and diseases, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, lung disease, arthritis, falls, and fractures, that can inhibit older people’s ability to perform daily tasks and lead indendepent lives.

"Regular physical activity has also been associated with greater longevity as well as reduced risk of physical disability and dependence, the most important health outcome, even more than death, for most older people," the authors said, noting the four new studies advance the field and help us better understand the "full range of important aging-related outcomes for which exercise has a clinically relevant impact."

The studies are:

Physical Activity at Midlife in Relation to Successful Survival in Women at Age 70 Years or Older.
Qi Sun; Mary K. Townsend; Olivia I. Okereke; Oscar H. Franco; Frank B. Hu; Francine Grodstein.
Arch Intern Med. 2010;170[2]:194 -201, published online January 25, 2010.

Resistance Training and Executive Functions: a 12-Month Randomized Controlled Trial.
Teresa Liu-Ambrose; Lindsay S. Nagamatsu; Peter Graf; B. Lynn Beattie; Maureen C. Ashe; Todd C. Handy.
Arch Intern Med. 2010;170[2]:170 -178, published online January 25, 2010.

Physical Activity and Incident Cognitive Impairment in Elderly Persons: the INVADE Study.
Thorleif Etgen; Dirk Sander; Ulrich Huntgeburth; Holger Poppert; Hans Forstl; Horst Bickel.
Arch Intern Med. 2010;170[2]:186 -193, published online January 25, 2010.

Exercise Effects on Bone Mineral Density, Falls, Coronary Risk Factors, and Health Care Costs in Older Women: the Randomized Controlled Senior Fitness and Prevention (SEFIP) Study.
Wolfgang Kemmler; Simon von Stengel; Klaus Engelke; Lothar Haberle; Willi A. Kalender.
Arch Intern Med. 2010;170[2]:179 -185, published online January 25, 2010.

Source: JAMA/Archives.

[Source: Catharine Paddock, PhD, Medical News Today]