Healthy lifestyle extends lifespan

May 31, 2012 at 7:26 PM
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ANN ARBOR, Mich., May 31 (UPI) -- U.S. women in their 70s who exercised and ate more fruits and vegetables lived longer than women who didn't exercise or eat produce, researchers said.

Dr. Emily J Nicklett of the University of Michigan School of Social Work and colleagues at The Johns Hopkins University tracked 713 women ages 70-79 who took part in the Women's Health and Aging Studies.

The researchers measured blood levels of carotenoids -- beneficial plant pigments that the body turns into antioxidants, such as beta-carotene to estimate the amount of fruit and vegetables. Physical activity was measured via a questionnaire.

"A number of studies have measured the positive impact of exercise and healthy eating on life expectancy, but what makes this study unique is that we looked at these two factors together," Nicklett said in a statement.

The study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found 53 percent didn't do any exercise, 21 percent were moderately active and the remaining 26 percent were in the most active group.

During the five-year follow up, 11.5 percent of the study participants died.

The researchers found the women who were most physically active and had the highest fruit and vegetable consumption were eight times more likely to survive the five-year follow-up period than the women with the lowest rates.

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