Alert
Close

Help pack a million meals for struggling seniors on 9-11. Volunteer today

HIGHLIGHTS

Open
AARP Staying Sharp: Keep Your Brain Healthy

AARP REALPAD

The tablet with free 24/7 customer support. Learn More

AARP VETERAN MEMBERSHIP

Military and Veterans Discount

 

KEEP BRAIN ACTIVE!

AARP Games - Play Now!

Learning centers

Get smart strategies for managing health conditions.

 

Arthritis

Heart Disease

Diabetes

Most Popular

Viewed

The Real Fountain of Youth: Exercise

Getting physical results in a longer, healthier life

Moreover, a 21-year study by Fries and colleagues at Stanford, published in 2008, followed middle-age members of a runners club and compared them with men and women who didn't exercise. As they aged, the runners stayed spry — continuing to perform everyday activities — for 16 years longer than the other group.

Studies also strongly suggest regular exercise helps keep us sharp. A federal report concluded that while being physically active in midlife and beyond may not prevent dementia, it seems to delay its symptoms. Research has shown, too, that regular walking helps delay or even prevent the brain shrinkage that heralds the onset of dementia.

So are the new seniors, with their treadmills and weight machines, set to defy old age? Boomers, especially those who are educated and well-off, do engage in more leisure time workouts than their parents did; they also eat more fruits and vegetables, smoke considerably less, and have access to better medications to control high blood pressure and cholesterol, says Ali Mokdad, a professor of global health at the University of Washington. But Americans born into post-World War II prosperity also are the first generation to face social changes, global in scope, that promote a sedentary lifestyle and calorie-rich diet. "We work longer hours," says Mokdad. "We commute longer. We sit down to the TV and computer more than our parents did." And "we're paying for it by having higher rates of obesity."

Indeed, some experts predict obesity will be the boomers' Achilles' heel, negating their other health advantages as they age. Still, boomers can start now to eliminate many health risks by — you guessed it — exercising. "Right now, we are lousy at getting people to lose weight," Fries says. "But we can get people to start exercising and keep it up. It's a much more effective way to pursue the health policy."

Katharine Greider lives in New York and writes about health and medicine.

You may also like: Vitamins from A to Z.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Advertisement

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Walgreens 1 discount membership aarp

Members can earn 50 points per $1 spent on select health & wellness products at Walgreens.

member benefit aarp hear usa

Members save 15% on easy listening devices and more at the HearUSA Hearing Shop.

Eye Med 4 Membership Benefit AARP Discount

Members save up to 60% on eye exams and 30% on glasses at Target Optical.

Membership Benefits Discounts Email Genius

Brain boost? Get AARP email for access to memory exercises & more that help you focus.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points

Advertisement