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Jacobs said the researchers took into account factors that also affect survival, including participants' overall health and whether they smoked, and still found that activity levels were strongly related to longevity.
Dr. James Webster, a professor of geriatric medicine at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, said the study can't completely rule out that participants who were able to exercise were already healthier than the others, and thus likely to live longer.
Still, Webster said the link between octogenarian exercise and longevity appears valid. He was not involved in the study.
Laura Thorp, a researcher at Chicago's Rush University Medical Center, said very old patients who want to increase their activity should do so under a doctor's supervision. Still, Thorp said, "Even those who are not exercisers or athletes can start and still see substantial benefits."
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