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Longevity 2.0 : Healthy Lifestyle at Old Age Adds Years Life

Update Date: Aug 31, 2012 09:22 AM EDT

It is never too late. Maintaining a healthy life style is advised at any time in life and there could be added benefits of following a healthy regime in the later years of life, a new study claims.

According to the study, a healthy lifestyle in old age could add up to five years to women's lives and men can enjoy six years. 

The researchers from Sweden claim this study to be the first of its kind to provide information on the differences in longevity, based on several modifiable factors, Medical Xpress reported. 

It is a known fact that factors like obesity and drinking and smoking habits can predict death in elders. However, if the same is applicable for those above 75 years of age, is still unclear.

The researchers from Sweden looked in to the differences in survival among those aged 75 and above on the basis of their lifestyle, leisure activities, and social networks. About 1,800 individuals were monitored for 18 years with a record of data such as age, sex, occupation, education, lifestyle behaviors, social network and leisure activities.

During the follow-up period 92 percent of participants died, and half of the participants survived longer than 90 years.

 It was revealed that most of the survivors were women. Also, other common factors among the survivors were high education, healthy lifestyle, better social network, and participation in more leisure activities than non-survivors. 

Other revelations of the study were that smokers died one year earlier than non-smokers. Those who quit smoking and those who never smoked had a similar pattern of survival. This suggested that those who quit smoking in middle age could significantly reduce mortality risk. Physical activity greatly influenced survival, and apparently, regular swimmers, walkers and gymnasts survive two years more than those who did not. 

Overall, it was found that on an average, those with a healthier life style could survive 5.4 years longer than those who did not. 

In those who were 85 years or older with chronic conditions,, a healthier lifestyle was found to increase life span on an average by 4 years compared to those with a unhealthy life style.

In conclusion, the authors of the study say that even after reaching the age of 75 or more, the importance of leisure activity and non smoking still persists. 

"Our results suggest that encouraging favorable lifestyle behaviors even at advanced ages may enhance life expectancy, probably by reducing morbidity," they concluded according to Medical Xpress.

The study was published in the British Medical Journal.

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