A longitudinal study that included 3,626 community-residing adults, aged 32 to 84, revealed interesting information about what can be beneficial for long term functional health. While controlling for socio-demographic, health status, and physical risk factors (large waist circumference, smoking, and alcohol or drug problems), a composite of three protective variables (control beliefs, social support, and physical exercise) at the starting point of the study was significantly related to functional health change. The more of these factors at the starting point of the study, the better the health maintenance over 10 years.
Among middle-aged and older adults, declines in health were significantly reduced with an increased number of these protective factors.
The researchers concluded that the results are encouraging for the prospect of developing interventions to promote functional health and for reducing public health expenditures for physical disability in later life.
Link to the study