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Exercise helps elderly physically and mentally

11th November 2005

Seniors who incorporate exercise into their lifestyles improve their physical function and experience psychological benefits as well, according to new research.

A study, from the University of Illinois, found elderly participants who exercised indicated positive psychosocial and cognitive outcomes (improved quality of life).

Published in the current issue of the Annals of Behavioural Medicine, the study involved 174 adults over the age of 65, some of whom took part in a six-month exercise trial consisting of walking and stretching exercises.

Participants were surveyed and assessed at one and five year intervals during the study.

Lead researcher professor Edward McAuley said participants who continued to be physically active a year after baseline responses were "fitter, had higher levels of self-efficacy and physical self-esteem, expressed more positive affect and reported in turn a better quality of life".

This increased over the five-year term with greater improvements in esteem and affect discovered.

Professor McAuley concluded: "The implications of our work are that not only will physical activity potentially add years to your life as we age, but the quality of those years is likely to be improved by regular physical activity."