Monday's research examined whether regular physical activity could help even the oldest seniors stay mobile for longer despite other health conditions.
The study enrolled more than 1,600 adults between the ages of 70 and 89 considered at high risk for disability because they were sedentary and had various chronic health problems, such as heart disease or diabetes.
The study compared seniors assigned to a regular walking program, plus a little strength and balance exercise, with a control group given health education.
Gill said the study shows many sedentary seniors can start walking safely, no gym membership needed just a safe place such as a sidewalk or shopping mall.
"A lot of people probably don't know where to start," said UCSF's Katz, who co-authored an editorial in Monday's Annals that said an actual prescription from the doctor could help, maybe more than a medication prescription.