Tufts Study Says Late-in-Life Exercise May Improve Health

Even after the age of 70, exercise was linked to lower rates of disease.
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Several recent studies have linked young adulthood exercise and nutrition to better life-long health. A study from Tufts University, however, says the onus isn’t only on the young.

Tufts found that people in their 70s may be at a lower risk of heart attack and stroke if they exercise consistently. It’s no surprise that exercise is good for you, but the study is among the first to look specifically at how late in life exercise affects health; most fitness-related research focuses on younger populations.

By examining the health data of more than 4,200 adults older than age 73, the researchers were able to see a connection between regular physical activity and lower rates of heart disease, stroke, and clogged arteries. Even low-intensity activity, such as walking or gardening, was linked to better health, though more rigorous exercise came with more benefits. For example, individuals who could walk three miles per hour had roughly half as many heart problems as those who could walk two miles per hour.

“Some people will say to their 80-year-old grandmother or grandfather, ‘Do what you want and eat what you want,’” lead researcher Darius Mozaffarian said in a statement. “Now we know there’s a substantial benefit to maintaining these types of activities, especially walking.”


Jamie Ducharme Jamie Ducharme, Contributor jducharme@bostonmagazine.com