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50+: Live Better, Longer

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Want to Stay Young? Start Moving

Study finds it's never too late to reap the anti-aging benefits of exercise

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In addition, the researchers kept track of serious health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, emphysema and Alzheimer's disease. They also monitored the participants' mental health and physical.

Over eight years, almost one in 10 participants became active and 70 percent remained active. The others stayed inactive or became inactive.

By the end of the study, almost 40 percent of the participants developed a chronic medical condition, nearly 20 percent were depressed, 20 percent were mentally impaired and one-third had a disability.

One in five, however, was considered by the researchers to be a "healthy ager." There was a direct association between healthy aging and exercise, the researchers said, although they did not prove a cause-and-effect link.

People who partook in moderate or vigorous physical activity at least once a week were three to four times more likely to be healthy agers, compared with those who remained inactive, the researchers found.

Moreover, people who were active at the start of the study were seven times more likely to be healthy agers than people who were inactive and remained so, the researchers found.

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