Exercise for Older People

The following tips for exercising may be helpful:

Any older person should have both complete physical and medical examination and professional instruction before starting an exercise program.

In starting out, remember the adage "Start low and go slow." For sedentary, older people one or more of the following programs may be helpful and safe: low-impact aerobics, gait training, balance exercises, tai chi, self-paced walking, and lower extremity resistance training using elastic tubing or ankle weights. (Even in the nursing home, programs aimed at improving strength, balance, gait, and flexibility have significant benefits).

Strength training assumes even more importance as one ages, because after age 30 everyone undergoes a slow process of muscular erosion. The effect can be reduced or even reversed by adding resistance training to an exercise program. One 2000 study found that men between the ages of 60 and 75 have the same potential to gain strength as men in their 20s. As little as one day a week of resistance training improves overall strength and agility. Strength training also improves heart and blood vessel health and general well being.

  • Power training, which aims for the fastest rate at which a muscle or muscle group can perform work, may be particularly helpful for older women in strengthening muscles and preventing falls.
  • Flexibility exercises promote healthy muscle growth and help reduce the stiffness and loss of balance that accompanies aging, easing these activities.
  • Chair exercises are available for people who are unable to walk.

Article: Exercise, Health and Fitness