In a 2013 Center for Disease Control study, more than 30% of adults
aged 65 or older reported no leisure-time physical activity in the
past month. But even older people need regular exercise.
Physical activity can help prevent bone loss (reducing the risk of
fractures) and reduces the risk of many diseases associated with
aging. It increases muscle strength and may improve balance and
coordination, which can reduce the likelihood of falling. It also
increases the ability for basic living, making it easier to carry
grocery bags, get up from a chair and take care of household chores.
Being physically active is a real key in maintaining quality of life and independence.
Elderly men with high blood pressure can
lower their risk of death with even moderate levels of fitness
compared to those who were less fit. Studies have shown that increased
levels of physical activity are associated with a reduced incidence of
coronary heart disease,
hypertension, non-insulin-dependent type 2 diabetes, colon
cancer, depression and anxiety. Active people with high blood
pressure, high blood cholesterol, diabetes or other chronic diseases
are less likely to die prematurely than inactive people with these
conditions. Fitness can have a positive impact on health regardless of
age or the presence of chronic illness.
- Older adults can work with their health care provider to
develop an activity plan to consider chronic conditions, activity
limitations, and reducing risk of falls. Fitness professionals can
also be a good resource for recommendations on physical activity and
injury prevention for healthy, asymptomatic older adults.
- Focus more on increasing moderate activity and give
less emphasis to attaining high levels of activity which can have a
risk of injury and lower adherence. Pick activities you enjoy and
exercise at an intensity appropriate for you. You may find that you
can gradually increase your physical activity over time.
- Pick activities that are fun, suit your needs and that you can
- Wear comfortable clothing and footwear
appropriate for the temperature, humidity and activity.
you decide that walking is a great
activity for you, choose a place that has a smooth, soft surface;
that does not intersect with traffic; and that's well-lighted and
safe. Many people walk at local area shopping malls.
- Find a
companion to exercise with you if it will help you stay on a regular
schedule and add to your enjoyment.
- Because muscular
adaptation and elasticity generally slows with age, take more time
to warm up and cool down
while exercising. Make sure you stretch slowly.
- Start exercising at a low intensity (especially if you've been
mostly sedentary), and progress gradually.
- If you plan to
be active more than 30 minutes, then stay hydrated by trying to
drink some water every 15 minutes, especially when exercising in
hot, humid conditions. As you age, your sense of thirst tends to
decrease and you may not be able to completely rely on your internal
sense of thirst.
For more information, download the American Heart Association Heart Healthy Resource
Guide and Exercises for Seniors.