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Nov 26, 2013 08:51 AM EST

Engaging in regular physical exercise in later life will increase healthy ageing by seven times, according to a University College London study.

For the study, the researchers assessed the health of 3,500 people aged over 64 for eight years. Participants reported the frequency and intensity of regular physical activity in the beginning of 2002-03, and details were recorded every two years until 2010-11.

They found a direct connection between major health problems like heart disease, strokes and diabetes, and the involvement in physical activity. The experts said that regular physical activity can keep major health problems and dementia at bay.

They also found that those who were regularly involved in moderate or vigorous physical activity at least once a week were less likely to fall ill than those who remained inactive.

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Older people who were physically active during the study period were three times more likely to age healthily than those who remained inactive. Also, those participants who were associated with regular physical activity for the entire period were seven times more likely to be fit and healthy than those who did not perform any exercise.

 "Sustained physical activity was prospectively associated with improved healthy ageing - absence of disease, freedom from disability, high cognitive and physical functioning, good mental health.

"Significant health benefits were even seen among participants who became physically active relatively late in life. The results support public health initiatives designed to engage older adults in physical activity," the authors wrote, Mirror reports.

The study has been published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

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