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Elderly work up a sweat for exercise

By Kat Carney
CNN Headline News

exercise
Elderly women practice tai chi in a retirement community in Fremont, California.

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(CNN) -- Regular exercise is one of the keys to healthy living, but new research suggests physical activity also may be significant for people to stay independent longer as they age -- at least for women.

Over a period of 14 years, researchers looked at 229 women whose ages averaged 74 at the beginning of the study, according to the Archives of Internal Medicine.

The researchers found those women who were most active, in terms of sports or leisure activity, were the most likely to be living independently nearly a decade and a half later -- which would mean that many of the participants were in their mid- to late 80s by then.

The study didn't detail the types of activities the more active women engaged in, but lead author, Jennifer Brach, noted that something as simple as a regular walk can be helpful.

During the winter months, indoor activities might have more appeal than outdoor walks.

Luckily, senior citizens seeking to stay active these days also have a variety of home video tapes from which to choose.

For those wanting a little cardiovascular exercise, Richard Simmons' "Platinum Sweat: Sweatin' for Seniors" video might fill the bill.

Senior looking to build a little muscle may want to check out the "Sit and Be Fit" series with Mary Ann Wilson.

Physical activity can be good medicine, but remember that experts recommend everyone, especially those older than 40, check with their doctor before starting any exercise program.


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