Over 26 000 people are currently running the Boston Marathon (congratulations!), so this post will appropriately deal with running!
A 2008 study followed 284 runners and 156 controls, all over the age of 50 at baseline, for 21 years and found that elderly runners lived longer and had less disabilities than non-runners.
At the beginning of the study, the runners ran an average of about four hours a week and were younger, leaner and less likely to smoke compared to the controls.
After 21 years, their running time declined to an average of 76 minutes per week but health benefits were still apparent.
After 19 years, 34% of control had died compared to only 15% of runners!
What surprised the authors even more was that the gap between the physical abilities between runners and nonrunner kept increasing, even as the subjects entered their 90s. The authors speculate that this is a result of the runners' healthier habits and lower BMIs.
Vigorous exercise (running) at middle and older ages is associated with reduced disability in later life and a notable survival advantage.