Using More Energy Throughout the Day May Help Older Adults Live Longer

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What: Expending higher levels of energy through usual daily activities is associated with lower risk of mortality for older adults, a new study to be published July 12, 2006, in the Journal of the American Medical Association, has found. The study is the first to use a specific, objective measure of energy expenditure to determine whether “free-living” energy expenditure is related to longevity.

Todd M. Manini, Ph.D., of the National Institute on Aging (NIA), and co-authors assessed daily-activity energy expenditure in 302 high-functioning, community-dwelling adults ages 70 to 82. The third of study participants who spent the most energy had a significantly lower mortality risk than the third who spent the least. Those who used the most energy were more likely than those who used less energy to work for pay or climb stairs, but were no more likely to do high-intensity exercise, walk for exercise or other reasons, volunteer or serve as caregivers.

This research is part of the NIA Dynamics of Health, Aging and Body Composition Study and was also supported by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), both part of the National Institutes of Health.

Why: Previous studies have found that older adults with low levels of physical activity are at higher risk of mortality than those who report moderate or high activity levels. However, those studies have relied on subjective reports of physical activity. In contrast, Manini and co-authors measured resting metabolic rates and carbon dioxide production, a direct measure of total energy use, to assess individuals’ energy use through usual daily activity. This measurement was then linked to death rates.

The National Institute on Aging leads the federal effort supporting and conducting research on aging and the medical, social, and behavioral issues of older people. For more information on research and aging, go to

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, part of the NIH, conducts and supports research on diabetes; endocrine and metabolic diseases; digestive diseases, nutrition, and obesity; and kidney, urologic and hematologic diseases. Spanning the full spectrum of medicine and afflicting people of all ages and ethnic groups, these diseases encompass some of the most common, severe, and disabling conditions affecting Americans.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) “” the nation’s medical research agency “” includes 27 institutes and centers and is a component of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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