Keep on Going: Busy seniors live longer, more proof that it pays to stay active

1:31pm, July 12, 2006

Elderly people who bustle around the house, spend much time on their feet, climb stairs, and hold down jobs might be buying themselves precious years of life.

In a new study, researchers used a precise measure of calorie burning to assess activity. A total of 302 people, ages 70 to 82, completed questionnaires regarding their daily activities. All the volunteers got around without help, and none lived in an assisted-care facility or had been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness.

Each volunteer was given water containing a harmless, easily traced isotope of oxygen. By measuring this isotope in the carbon dioxide in each participant's urine, the researchers calculated how many calories that person burned during a 2-week period in which they went about their normal activities, says study coauthor Todd M. Manini, a physiologist at the National Institute on Aging in Bethesda, Md.

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