A new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine has told us something we pretty much already knew: if you jog, or engage in any regular aerobic exercise, in middle or late life, you're less likely to have disabilities and will live a longer and healthier life. The study, conducted over 20 years from 1985 to 2005, included 538 study participants who were regular runners and 423 people in a control group who had never run. All participants were at least 50 years of age when the study began.
The data was compiled at the 8-year, 13-year, and 21-year marks and revealed—tada!—that the particpants who exercised had better aerobic capacity, better cardiovascular fitness, increased bone mass, fewer inflammatory markers, less physical disability, better response to vaccinations and even improved thinking, learning and memory. They also lived significantly longer. By the 19th year of the study, 34 percent of the non-runners had died compared with only 15 percent of the runners.
At the end of the study, the participants were assessed for ability levels in eight basic daily activities, such as walking, eating, and grip strength. The runners averaged one mild disability, while the non-runners averaged one-to-two disabilities and were more likely to have major disabilities.
None of this really comes as a surprise... we've seen studies for years telling us that if we exercise and eat right, we'll live longer, healthier lives. That's why I jog several times a week (I'll be completing my fourth half-marathon in October). And I hope to still be doing it when I'm in my 80s.