Physical Activity: It’s Never Too Late!

Benefits of Exercise:

As is the case with younger adults, regular exercise has been shown to provide a myriad of health benefits for older adults, too! Here are just a few of the benefits: fall prevention, improvements in blood pressure, diabetes, lipid profile, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, cognitive, social and activity of daily living functions.

Regular physical activity is also associated with decreased mortality and age-related morbidity in older adults. Studies have shown that mortality rates were also lower in those patients who did not begin regular exercise until late in life as compared with patients who were active only in younger years and then subsequently stopped exercising.

Thus, it is NEVER TOO LATE to benefit from physical activity.

The 3 components of Exercise:

  • Cardiovascular: Moderate aerobic activity for a combined total of at least 30 minutes, most days of the week. Individual bouts of activity may be as brief as 10 minutes.  Examples: walking, jogging, swimming, dancing, cycling, tennis, golf using a pull cart etc.
  • Strength Training: Muscle strength is important to daily functions. As we age, muscle strength declines by 15% per decade and 30% per decade after age 70. Strength training involves all major muscle groups. Examples: single set of 10 to 15 repetitions using 8 to 10 different exercises, performed 2 to 3 times per week. Each repetition should be performed slowly through a full range of motion while avoiding holding one’s breath.
  • Balance and Flexibility: Stretch major muscle groups once per day after exercise. 

Overcoming Barriers to Exercise:

  • It is advisable that you obtain approval and recommendations from your physician
    before beginning a fitness program.
  • Discomfort: Vary intensity and range of exercise; start slowly and avoid overdoing.  Listen to your body: If you become winded, rest and then reduce the intensity.  Stop if you feel pain and assess if you can safely resume.
  • Disability: Consult a physical therapist for specialized exercises.
  • Fear of Injury: Try balance and strength training initially; use appropriate clothing, equipment, and supervision; start slowly.
  • Environmental Factors:  Walk in the mall; use senior centers.
  • Illness: Refrain from exercise until you regain strength and wellness.
  • Fatigue: Use a range of exercise to match your energy level.