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Elderly joggers on the right track

Older people can enjoy a new lease of life simply by taking up running, according to new research comparing the benefits of jogging with the risks of injury.

The study, which spanned more than 20 years, showed that elderly joggers remained fit and active for longer than nonrunners and were half as likely to die prematurely.

They were also less likely to succumb to heart disease, cancer, neurological disorders and other age-related illnesses.

Scientists in the US began their research in 1984 when many experts feared the then-new jogging craze might do more harm than good, with concerns that overactive pensioners might end up crippled by arthritis and orthopaedic injuries.

However, the study's findings show that, rather than suffering as a result of too much exercise, those who kept themselves in shape by running turned out to have longer, healthier lives.

Professor James Fries, from the University of California at Stanford, and colleagues at Stanford's School of Medicine monitored the progress of 284 members of a nationwide running club and 156 healthy but non-running individuals, all of whom were aged over 50.

Death rates were reduced and disability was delayed in the group of runners, and there was also no evidence that they were more likely to suffer osteoarthritis.

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