If older adults took regular walks they could reduce their risk of future disability by half, according to new research.
Those adults who took part in a walking programme increased the likelihood of maintaining their independence by 41 per cent, the study published in the Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy says.
Motivated community figures could lead similar walking groups among lower-income areas in order to promote an inexpensive way of keeping active, the University of Georgia researchers suggest.
Co-author M Elaine Cress says: "Our study found that walking offers tremendous health benefits that can help older adults stay independent."
Trudy Moore-Harrison, the lead author of the study, comments that the walking scheme offered additional benefits to participants: "It gave them an opportunity to make new friends and get to know their neighbours."
Separate research published in the latest Neurology journal found Alzheimer's patients with higher fitness levels have larger brains than those who are less physically fit.
Jeffrey M Burns, from the University of Kansas School of Medicine, said people with early Alzheimer's may preserve brain function for longer by taking regular exercise.
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