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Exercise and the Aging Person

Exercise benefits persons of all ages

There are numerous benefits of following a regular exercise program--even for individuals who are challenged by such conditions as joint pain, back pain, arthritis, or osteoporosis--or individuals who are recovering from an injury or surgery (for example, joint replacement or arthroscopy). Exercise has also been shown to be beneficial to people of all ages, as it helps to lower blood pressure, lower the risks of falls and serious injuries (such as hip or wrist fractures), and slows the body's loss of muscle and bone mass. In addition, exercise helps to accomplish 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

  • Maintain a healthy weight

  • Enhance cardiovascular fitness

  • Increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels (the "good" cholesterol)

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

  • Provide fun and enjoyment

  • Provide for a longer, healthier life

  • Reduce joint and muscle pain

Photo of two older folks walking through a neighborhood

Exercise and the aging person

It is never too late to start an exercise program. With today's medical technology and scientific advances, the average life expectancy for men and women is increasing. Coupled with this is the fact that with longer lives, people are looking for a higher quality of living with greater importance placed on independent, healthy living. Exercise is a great way to keep older people active, but should be approached with caution. Exercise does not have to be vigorous to be beneficial. Even a walk around the park or 30 minutes working in the garden can be helpful for any age body and mind. Also, if 30 minutes of exercise at one time seems too much, research now suggests that three 10-minute intervals spread out over the day is just as effective.

If you have an existing medical condition, or are just starting an exercise program, be sure to consult your health care provider prior to beginning the program to make sure the exercise program that you choose is designed with your health and wellness in mind.

Online Medical Reviewer: Sather, Rita, RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Sohrabi, Farrokh, MD
Date Last Reviewed: 1/28/2013
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