A healthy diet and exercise can boost life expectancy among women in their seventies, a new study shows.
Researchers in the US looked at physical disabilities among 713 women aged 70-79.
After a five-year follow up, they found that women who were most physically active and consumed the most fruit and vegetables were eight times more likely to still be alive than those who did these the least.
Scientists at the University of Michigan and Johns Hopkins University tested participants’ blood levels of carotenoids-beneficial plant pigments which are turned into antioxidants such as beta-carotene.
The researchers said diet and exercise are likely to become the most important factors in predicting life expectancy, following the decline in smoking rates.
Lead author Dr Emily J Nicklett from the University of Michigan said: “Given the success in smoking cessation, it is likely that maintenance of a healthy diet and high levels of physical activity will become the strongest predictors of health and longevity.
“Programmes and policies to promote longevity should include interventions to improve nutrition and physical activity in older adults.”