A new Yale University-led study has found that regular walking can help senior adults avoid disability, even if they weren’t very active for their first 70 years of life.

The study found that physical activity over three and a half years resulted in 25 percent less disability in seniors, compared to those who were not walking. They were also better able to recover from a debilitating condition in the first place and less likely to suffer another one, Medical Xpress reported.

“Our report strengthens the evidence supporting the benefit and long-term value of physical activity in promoting independent mobility among a growing population of vulnerable older persons,” first author Dr. Thomas Gill, professor of geriatrics at the Yale School of Medicine, said in the release, according to the New Haven Register.

Researchers examined more than 1,600 adults between the ages of 70 and 89, and compared seniors assigned to a regular walking program, plus a little strength and balance exercise, with a control group. The study’s findings were published on Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

“Interventions to promote independent mobility should focus not only on preventing the initial occurrence of disability, but also on restoring and maintaining independent mobility in older persons who become disabled,” Gill said.

Inactive adults have a higher risk for early death, heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression, and some cancers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People who are physically active tend to live longer and have lower risk for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression, and some cancers. It can also help with weight control, and may improve academic achievement in students.

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