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Health Benefits of Exercise Report 

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Structured Physical Activity Keeps Older Adults Mobile

Loss of mobility among older adults is a risk factor for disability, hospitalization, chronic disease, and premature death. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association assessed the impact of structured physical activity programs on preserving mobility in older adults in multiple cities and communities over a two and a half year period. During the study, 1,635 adults at risk for loss of mobility were randomized to either a health education program or a structured, moderate intensity physical activity program. Exercises were conducted twice weekly at a center and three to four times weekly at home and mobility was measured by participants’ ability to walk 400 meters. 

The results showed that fewer participants in the physical activity group experienced both short term and persistent mobility disability over the course of the study. There was a slightly greater risk of adverse effects in the physical activity group compared with the health education group, but the authors still conclude that a structured, moderate intensity physical activity program can be beneficial in helping older adults at risk for disability preserve their mobility. Health clubs provide a safe, supportive environment for older adults to engage in moderate activity, and some clubs offer programs and services specifically for older adults.   

Pahor M et al. Effect of Structured Physical Activity on Prevention of Major Mobility Disability in Older Adults: The LIFE Study Randomized Clinical Trial.JAMA. 2014 May 27. doi: 10.1001/jama.2014.5616.

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Fitness In Young Adulthood Linked To Better Memory In Middle Age

A twenty year study published in the journal Neurology followed over 2,000 adults over 20 years, testing their cardiorespiratory fitness and memory to investigate the link between fitness in young adulthood and cognitive function 25 years later. During the study, adults performed a treadmill test to assess fitness at the beginning of the study and at year 20, and performed testing to assess verbal memory, psychomotor speed, and cognitive function at year 25.

The study found that better fitness at the initial test (when participants were in their mid-twenties) was associated with better outcomes on the memory test 25 years later, even after adjusting for other factors like age, sex, education, and clinic location. Health clubs provide a safe, convenient environment for young adults to pursue an active life. 

Zhu, N et al. Cardiorespiratory fitness and cognitive function in middle age.Neurology. 2014 Apr 15;82(15):1339-46.

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Physical Activity Is Associated With Lower Rates of Premature Death Among Breast and Colon Cancer Survivors

Studies have demonstrated that exercise can improve physical function during and following cancer treatment, but little was known about the ability of exercise to impart long term survival benefits. A study in the journal Annals of Oncologyreviewed a total of 23 studies including over 49,000 cancer survivors to identify the relationship between pre and post diagnosis physical activity habits and premature death among cancer survivors.

The results showed that habitual physical activity both pre and post diagnosis was associated with lower rates of premature death in both breast cancer and colon cancer survivors. In addition, cancer survivors who increased their physical activity by any level were less likely to die prematurely compared to those who did not change their activity or who were insufficiently active post diagnosis.

Health clubs provide a safe, supportive place for cancer survivors to resume or start an exercise habit, and programs specifically designed for cancer survivors are now offered at some clubs.

Schmid D1, Leitzmann MF. Association between physical activity and mortality among breast cancer and colorectal cancer survivors: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Ann Oncol. 2014 Mar 18.

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