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Exercising and eating fruits, veggies leads to long life in older women

June 5, 2012

Getting plenty of exercise and eating fruits and vegetables is important at any age, but results of a new study suggest that older women may stand to benefit the most. Researchers from University of Michigan and Johns Hopkins University found that women in their 70s who exercised the most and ate the most vegetables had a significantly higher life expectancy.

The subjects were part of a larger study conducted to look at the causes and progression of physical disability in older women. Each subject was asked about how much physical activity she got and nutrition levels were measured through blood samples.  Those who had higher levels of exercise and fruit and vegetable consumption were eight times more likely to survive through the five-year follow-up period.

While the results may seem like common sense, researchers say the findings are important because they encourage a healthy lifestyle for seniors. This is especially true given that only about 30 percent of people 65 and older get the minimum recommended amount of fruits and vegetables.

"But while it may seem obvious, it's important to go back to the basics in terms of understanding that diet and exercise can strongly predict mortality among older adults," study lead author Emily Nicklett told HealthDay News. "Promoting healthy diets that include fruits and vegetables, together with some form of simple physical activity like walking, can make dramatic improvements in terms of health outcomes."

While the study points to the importance of eating vegetables and fruits, there are still a considerable amount of choices to make when picking out which foods are best. In particular, seniors should make sure to eat plenty of dark, green, leafy vegetables in order to get enough calcium, which will help prevent conditions such as osteoporosis and encourage bone strength.