Exercise and the Aging Person

Exercise and Older Adults

Exercise is good for people of all ages

There are many benefits of
following a regular exercise program. This is true even for people who have joint pain,
back pain, arthritis, or osteoporosis. And it’s true for people who are recovering from
an injury or from surgery such as joint replacement or arthroscopy. Exercise has also
been shown to help people of all ages by lowering blood pressure, lowering the risk of
falls and serious injuries (such as hip or wrist fractures), and slowing the body’s loss
of muscle and bone mass. Exercise also helps to do the following:

  • Increase flexibility

  • Tone muscles

  • Build stronger bones

  • Improve mobility and
    balance

  • Boost self-image

  • Relieve insomnia

  • Relieve tension and
    stress

  • Offset feelings of anxiety
    and depression

  • Improve thinking ability

  • Improve balance

  • Stay at a healthy weight

  • Enhance cardiovascular
    fitness

  • Increase HDL (“good”)
    cholesterol levels

  • Reduce the risk of chronic
    diseases (such as type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, such as breast
    cancer and colon cancer)

  • Provide fun and enjoyment

  • Live a longer, healthier
    life

  • Reduce joint and muscle
    pain

Exercise guidelines for older
adults

It’s never too late to start an
exercise program. With today’s medical technology and scientific advances, more people
are living longer. And with longer lives, people are looking for a higher quality of
life. Greater importance is placed on independent, healthy living. Exercise is a great
way to keep older people active.

  • The DC lists the following physical activity guidelines for
    older adults:

    • Move more and sit less. Some activity during the day is
      better than none.
    • For significant health benefits, do at least 150
      minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of vigorous-intensity exercise a week.
    • Gain additional health benefits by doing more than 300
      minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week.
    • Get even more health benefits by doing strength
      training that involves all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a
      week.

Exercise should be approached
carefully. It doesn’t have to be vigorous to be helpful. Even a walk around the park can
be positive for any age body and mind. And so can 30 minutes of working in the garden.
You also don’t have to do 30 minutes of exercise all at one time. Research now suggests
it’s just as effective to do 3, 10-minute periods of exercise spread out over the
day.

Talk with your healthcare
provider if you have an existing health condition, have had a recent surgery, or you are
just starting an exercise program. Your provider can help make sure the exercise program
that you choose is designed with your health and wellness in mind.