People over 60 who exercise and are fit live longer than their sedentary peers, regardless of weight and body mass, researchers said in a study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Earlier research showed that obesity and sedentary habits increased the risk of death in middle-aged adults. The study carried out by University of South Carolina researchers tested the premise for the first time among older adults.

"We observed that fit individuals who were obese ... had a lower risk of all-cause mortality than did unfit, normal-weight, or lean individuals," said the study's lead author Dr Xuemei Sui.

"Our data therefore suggest that fitness levels in older individuals influence the association of obesity to mortality," he added.

The 1979-2001 research focused on the relation between cardiovascular fitness and adiposity and death rates among 2,063 adults aged 60 years and older (the average age was 64.4 years), 20 percent males, 80 percent females.

Physical fitness was assessed by a treadmill exercise and obesity was measured by body mass index, waist circumference and the percentage of body fat. (AFP) -WASHINGTON, Dec 4, 2007


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