The ramped-up exercise program did not, however, reduce the risk of heart disease, said the German researchers.
Another study out of Germany found more evidence that exercise -- either moderate or high-intensity -- reduced the risk of cognitive impairment in men and women over the age of 55 over a two-year follow-up period.
And, finally, researchers in British Columbia, Canada, reported that women who practiced resistance training either once or twice a week had improved cognitive skills, but only in the areas of attention and conflict resolution, compared to women who focused on balance and toning activities.
The resistance training, which included leg presses on a resistance machine, had the added benefit of strengthening the quadriceps.
Surprisingly, women performing resistance training also experienced reductions in brain volume, a phenomenon normally linked with poorer cognitive function. This paradox needs more study, the study authors said.
An accompanying commentary in the journal pointed out that pretty much all physical ailments in later life result at least partly from lack of physical activity.
Meanwhile, exercise has been shown to improve arthritis, osteoporosis, heart disease, lung disease, cancer and many more woes.
"The bottom line," said Sun, "is that, no matter what, if you can you should do some physical activity."
The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more on exercise and physical activity.
SOURCES: Qi Sun, M.D., Sc.D., research associate, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston; James O. Hill, Ph.D., professor, pediatrics, and director, Center for Human Nutrition, University of Colorado at Denver; Jan. 25, 2010, Archives of Internal Medicine
All rights reserved