Saying that it’s never too late to become healthy sounds always really cool. It’s the kind of motivational saying that anyone wants to hear. But have you ever stop and wondered what really “too late” means? Are there really no age limits when it comes to making changes in your lifestyle?
Apparently so, as a recent published research has concluded that even seniors and elderly people, aged 75 years old or more can greatly improve their health by living a healthy lifestyle.
The results of switching habits can be pretty dramatic as it can add 5 years to women’s life and an astonishing 6 years to men’s.
The team of researchers of Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, lead by professor Laura Fratiglioni, focused on whether healthy lifestyle factors can apply to people aged 75 years or more. It is well settled that lifestyle factors, such as being overweight, smoking and heavy drinking, predict death among elderly people. But it’s still uncertain whether these associations are applicable to people aged 75 years or more.
In order to assess this the researchers measured the differences in survival among adults aged 75 and older based on modifiable factors such as lifestyle behaviours, leisure activities, and social networks.
The study involved over 1,800 individuals who were monitored for 18 years (1987-2005). During the follow-up period 92% of participants died. Half of the participants lived longer than 90 years. Survivors were more likely to be women, highly educated, have healthy lifestyle behaviours, have a better social network, and participate in more leisure activities than non-survivors.
Results show that:
(1) Smokers died one year earlier than non-smokers.
(2) Former smokers had a similar pattern of survival to never smokers (in other words quitting smoking in middle age reduces the effect on mortality).
(3) Physical activity was most strongly associated with survival (the average age at death of participants who regularly swam, walked or did gymnastics was two years greater than those who did not.
Overall, the average survival of people with a low risk profile (healthy lifestyle behaviours, participation in at least one leisure activity, and a rich or moderate social network) was 5.4 years longer than those with a high risk profile.
Even among those aged 85 years or older and people with chronic conditions, the average age at death was four years higher for those with a low risk profile compared with those with a high risk profile.
In summary, the associations between leisure activity, not smoking, and increased survival sill existed in those aged 75 years or more, with women’s lives prolonged by 5 years and men’s by 6 years.
These associations, although attenuated, were still present among people aged 85 or more and in those with chronic conditions, the researchers added. “Our results suggest that encouraging favourable lifestyle behaviours even at advanced ages may enhance life expectancy, probably by reducing morbidity,” they concluded.
The Iron You
The above story is reprinted from materials provided by British Medical Journal, via EurekaAlert