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Wild chimps helping to teach humans about healthy ageing

Chimpanzee on a branch

As part of the Kibale Chimpanzee Project in Uganda, which has seen scientists observing wild chimps since 1987 to help understand primate behaviour and how it relates to humans, it has been revealed that for wild chimpanzees and probably for people too, it’s not physical activity, but inactivity, that makes people frail.

Frailty in older age sees many people need stair lifts to get around their home and mobility scooters to be able to get out and about, but this study has shed some new light on the topic.

Chimpanzees in the wild and in African sanctuaries where they have lots of space to roam are healthier and more mobile when they age compared to chimpanzees who were living in laboratories or captivity with minimal space.

The fate of these ailing captive chimps teaches us about the risks of increasingly sedentary lifestyles for many present-day humans.

Speaking in an article on the National Geographic website, anthropologist Melissa Emery Thompson of the University of New Mexico and a co-director of the Kibale Chimpanzee Project, says: “People often become less active as they age, inspired by the self-fulfilling prophecy that their bodies are naturally weakening and that their condition is therefore inevitably deteriorating. Yet even wild chimpanzees like Auntie Rose, who had to walk many miles a day to find food and did not receive health care when ill or injured, appear to be ageing in a healthier way.

“Studies in people with hunter-gatherer lifestyles, many of whom remain very active until the end of their lives, also often show that they stay healthy much longer than those of us taking it easy as we grow older.”

Another recent study found that chimpanzees that were allowed to roam in a larger outdoor spaces or the wild had much lower cholesterol and healthier cardio than chimps who lived in laboratories. This reveals that chimps age in healthier ways because they stay active throughout their lives.

It is believed that the research efforts into chimpanzees and how they age will benefit human health in the future.

This news article is from Companion Stairlifts. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.