Harvard Women's Health Watch

An apple a day-plus a walk-might contribute to a longer life

The secret to longevity could lie in some basic good advice: Eat your fruits and vegetables and exercise daily.

A study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society suggests that women who follow these recommendations might live longer than those who don't. The connection between diet and exercise and longevity is nothing new, but this study was unique in that it looked at diet and exercise combined. It included 713 women, ages 70 to 79, who were enrolled in the Women's Health and Aging Studies.

The women were asked about their physical activity level, and their blood was tested for the presence of carotenoids—healthy plant pigments found in colorful fruits and vegetables. Women in the study who were most active and who had the highest blood levels of carotenoids were eight times more likely to remain alive during five years of follow-up than those who were sedentary and who had the lowest carotenoid levels. Eating fruits and vegetables and exercising might sound simple, but in reality, most older adults are skimping in both areas. For better health and longevity, add at least one extra fruit and vegetable to your daily diet, and get out for a 30-minute walk on most days of the week.

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