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Study: active women live independently longer
( 2003-11-25 09:17) (Agencies)

Older women who take regular walks and remain active have a much better chance of living independent lives as they age, according to a study published on Monday.

The finding was based on 171 women whose average age was 74 at the start of a 14-year study described as the first long-term look at physical activity and the ability to function later in life.

"Functional status relates directly to what people can do for themselves, so having a high functional status means the person is more likely to be able to live independently," said Jennifer Brach of the University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, chief author of the study.

"Regular physical activity, which can be as simple as walking, not only helps people to live longer and healthier, it helps them to live with fewer limitations and a better quality of life," she added in the study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Women in the study were checked intermittently via a questionnaire and tests that measured what they did in the way of sports or leisure activities, number of blocks walked and other physical activity.

The researchers found that women who were the most active, and were most consistent about getting exercise, were the most likely to be living independently 14 years later. Women who were always inactive were less likely to be independent, the study said. No details on blocks walked or other kinds of physical activity was listed.

"With people living longer, this emphasizes that everyone, young and old alike, should be physically active," Brach added.

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