Want to live longer? Leave the house

Researchers followed Jerusalem Longitudinal Study participants in their 70s, 80s and 90s and found the frequency that they left the house predicted the likelihood they would make it to the next age milestone.

Regularly getting out of the house may increase the lifespan of older adults, according to research from Israel reported in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Based on their answers about how often they left the house, participants were grouped into three categories:

  • Frequently: Six-seven days a week
  • Often: Two-five days a week
  • Rarely: Once a week or less

Those who left the house frequently, regardless of age, were significantly more likely to make it to the next age milestone.

For those who were aged 78:

  • 71% who left the house frequently lived to age 85
  • 67% of those who left the house often were alive at 85
  • Only 43% of those who left the house rarely made it to age 85.

For those who were tracked beginning at age 90, 64% of the frequently individuals, 56% of the often and 38% of the rarely made it to 95.

The study participants did include those with medical and mobility issues such as chronic pain, diabetes, vision or hearing impairment, heart disease and kidney disease.

“This is not surprising data,” says geriatric medicine specialist Dr. William D. Rhoades with Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill. “I would presume the participants who left the house frequently also got the most exercise and were the most social,” said Dr. Rhoades.

“There is a large amount of data on elderly patients showing the benefits of social contact for both physical and mental health,” says Dr. Rhoades.

“As one ages, social isolation often increases, and physical activity decreases, so making the effort to stay active is an important choice to help prevent or lessen health issues that can develop or worsen with age such as arthritis, heart disease, diabetes and dementia,” he says.

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