Starting physical exercise later in life can boost an individual’s likelihood of healthy aging by sevenfold, Medical Xpress reported.

In a new study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers followed a group of 3,500 seniors with an average age of 64 over an eight-year period.  Throughout the course of the study, the participants described the amount of regular physical activity they did from 2002 to 2003 – repeating the process for every subsequent two years until 2011.

The researchers also assessed the participants’ cognitive abilities, mental health and disability, using a variety of different tests.

During the study period, one in 10 seniors became regularly active and 70 percent remained active. The rest of the group either remained inactive or eventually became inactive.

By the end of the study, one in five of the participants was considered to have aged healthily – and the researchers found a direct link between active exercise and the likelihood of healthy aging.  The participants who eventually became active reaped more health benefits than those who did nothing.

"This study supports public health initiatives designed to engage older adults in physical activity, even those who are of advanced age," conclude the authors.

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