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Walking program linked to reduced disability
Falls are a top cause of disability for older adults. But a study published Sept. 26, 2016, in Annals of Internal Medicine, suggests that adopting a regular routine of moderate physical activity, such as walking, helps older adults remain mobile longer and may also help them to recover faster from physical disabilities. Researchers analyzed information from a previous randomized controlled trial that divided 1,600 sedentary adults ages 70 to 89 into two groups. One group received ongoing health education classes that included upper-body stretching exercises. The other group took part in a structured exercise program several days a week that included walking and some strength, flexibility, and balance training. Researchers assessed both groups over a period of three-and-a-half years. The new study concludes that people in the exercise group reduced the amount of time spent suffering from major disability by 25%, compared with people in the health education group. People in the exercise group also appeared less likely to experience disability in the first place, and more likely to recover if they did.