Based on this research, the message stays the same: get out there and exercise for healthy aging. From Medical Xpress:
Midlife occupational and leisure-time physical activity limits mobility in old age
Strenuous occupational physical activity in midlife increases the risk of mobility limitation in old age, whereas leisure-time physical activity decreases the risk. This is found in a study which followed up 5,200 public sector employees for 28 years. The study was conducted at the Gerontology Research Center in Finland and the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.
Heavy physical labor is often repetitive, wears the body and lasts for several hours a day. On the contrast, leisure-time physical activity is designed to improve fitness and provide recreation and a typical exercise session lasts for one or two hours. Even though both are based on muscle activity and result in energy expenditure, their long-term consequences are different.
"A person doing heavy manual work may compensate for its detrimental effects by participating in brisk leisure-time physical activity," says professor Taina Rantanen, the leader of the research group.
Mobility limitation was assessed five times and was based on a person's ability to maintain and change body positions, carry and handle objects and walk and move. The baseline assessment took place in 1981 and the last assessment in 2009.