Benefits from Exercise

The notion that exercise is good for you has been around for quite a while, but until recently older adults have been left out of the picture. Today, new information is emerging from research: people of all ages and physical conditions benefit from exercise and physical activity.

  • Scientific studies show that staying physically active and exercising regularly can help prevent or delay many diseases and disabilities. Scientists find that even moderate exercise and physical activity can improve the health of people who are frail or who have diseases that accompany aging.
  • Some seniors are afraid that exercise will be too strenuous or that physical activity will harm them. Yet, studies show that exercise is safe for people of all age groups and that older adults hurt their health far more by not exercising than by exercising.
  • Research suggests that exercise and physical activity can help older people maintain or partly restore these four areas: strength, balance, flexibility, and endurance
  • Exercise can help older adults feel better and enjoy life more, even those who think they're too old or too out of shape.
  • Increasing strength and endurance make it easier to climb stairs and carry groceries.
  • Improving balance helps prevent falls. Being more flexible may speed recovery from injuries.
  • Improve mood and relieve depression
  • Help prevent or delay many diseases and disabilities, including some types of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes
  • Improve health in the frail or those with diseases that accompany aging
  • Increase strength—carry groceries, climb stairs
  • Improve balance—prevent falls
  • Restore flexibility—speed recovery from injury
  • Build endurance—walk farther, dance longer
  • Improve quality of life

Source: The National Library of Medicine (NLM), Topic last updated: 16 December 2004


Safety Tips for Exercise

If you are at high risk for any chronic diseases such as heart disease or diabetes, or if you smoke or are obese, you should check first with your doctor before becoming more physically active. In general, men over 40 and women over 50 should check with their doctor before doing vigorous activity. Most older adults, regardless of age or condition, will do just fine in increasing their physical activity to a moderate level.

Consult your doctor if you have

  • any new, undiagnosed symptom
  • chest pain
  • irregular, rapid, or fluttery heart beat
  • severe shortness of breath
  • ongoing, significant, and undiagnosed weight loss
  • infections, like pneumonia, accompanied by fever which can cause rapid heart beat and dehydration
  • an acute blood clot
  • a hernia that is causing symptoms such as pain and discomfort
  • foot or ankle sores that won't heal
  • persistent pain or problems walking after a fall -- you might have a fracture and not know it
  • eye conditions such as bleeding in the retina or a detached retina. Also consult your doctor after a cataract removal or lens implant, or after laser treatment or other eye surgery.
  • a weakening in the wall of the heart's major outgoing blood vessel called an abdominal aortic aneurysm
  • a narrowing of one of the heart's valves called critical aortic stenosis
  • joint swelling.

Source: The National Library of Medicine (NLM)

Strength, Balance, Stretching, and Edurance Exercises for Seniors