Changes in daily motor activity predicts frailty and disability long before symptoms can be seen, according to a large new study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston.

Researchers used a watch-like device called an actimetry sensor to track daily movement patterns in 1,275 participants aged 50 to 100 years old. They found that irregular, spontaneous fluctuations could predict a person’s risk of frailty, disability and death years later.

Over a 13-year period, participants with more random fluctuations in daily motor activity had a 31% increased risk of frailty. These individuals were also up to 25% more likely to become disabled, and their risk of death increased by 26%, reported corresponding author Peng Li, Ph.D.

“[T]hese alterations occurred many years before any incident when people still had no overt symptoms, providing a possible opportunity of early prediction and prevention,” Li concluded.

The study was published on Wednesday in Science Translational Medicine. The authors have released a video of Dr. Li discussing the results.