(HealthDay News) – Even for adults aged ≥75 years, keeping up a healthy lifestyle, including physical activity and not smoking, is associated with increased life expectancy, according to a study published online Aug 30 in BMJ.

Debora Rizzuto, from the Karolinska Institutet and Stockholm University, and colleagues examined the modifiable factors that are associated with longevity in a population-based cohort study involving 1,810 adults aged ≥75. Participants were followed up for 18 years.

The researchers found that 91.8% of participants died during follow-up and that half the participants lived >90 years. Compared with non-smokers, half of the current smokers died 1 year earlier. Physical activity was the leisure activity that correlated most strongly with survival. For participants who regularly walked, swam, or did gymnastics, the median age at death was 2 years greater than those who did not engage in physical activity. Individuals with a low-risk profile (healthy lifestyle behavior, participation in at least one leisure activity, rich or moderate social network) had a 5.4-year longer median survival than those with a high-risk profile. Even for the oldest old (aged ≥85 years), a low-risk profile was linked with a four-year higher median age of death than a high-risk profile.

“The associations between leisure activity, not smoking, and increased survival still existed in those aged ≥75 years,” the authors write. “Our results suggest that encouraging favorable lifestyle behaviors even at advanced ages may enhance life expectancy, probably by reducing morbidity.”

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