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Running Improves Elderly Health, Slows Aging

Armen Hareyan's picture
Running and Aging

In 1984 everyone was very attracted to running and jogging. Even older people began actively to exercise and run for health. At that time, health care professionals expressed concern about elderly health, saying that they might suffer arthritis and orthopaedic injuries because of being too active. Now research shows that runnin can slow aging.

To understand how running can affect elderly health researchers from the University of California at Stanford examined 284 members of a nationwide running club and compared them with 156 healthy adults who were not involved in running activities. All participants were aged 50 and older. They were categorized by age, sex, smoking habits and Body Mass Index criteria to count running effects only.

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Runners were spending about 200 minutes a week at the beginning of the study and 70 minutes a week by the end of study, while non-runners were spending only 20 minutes on exercising. Most of runners stopped running at their 70s, but they were still exercising regularly.

Study participants were followed for 21 years and were regularly checked for health conditions and overall quality of life. Nineteen years after the study begun 34% of those participants that were not running died prematurely, while only 15% of runners died. Runners also reported good overall health with significantly reduced risk for heart disease, cancer, sleep disorders, and neurological diseases.

Gordon Lishman from University of California said: "This research re-confirms the clear benefits of regular exercise for older people. While younger people are barraged with encouragement to lead healthier lifestyles, the health needs of older people are often overlooked."