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Physical Activity as You Get Older - Topic Overview

Being active can keep you healthy

Exercise also has these specific health benefits for older adults. It:1

  • Improves blood pressure.
  • Improves heart failure symptoms and shortens hospital stays.
  • Improves cholesterol.
  • Helps keep postmenopausal women from losing bone density.
  • Helps joints work better, with less pain, in osteoarthritis.
  • Improves sleep and reduces fatigue.
  • Helps your brain work better and improves short-term memory.
  • May lower the risk of some cancers.
  • Lowers the risk of:
    • Hip and spinal fractures.
    • Falling.
    • Coronary artery disease.
    • Diabetes.
    • Depression.
    • Obesity.

Physical activity doesn't have to be strenuous. Older adults can gain great health benefits with a moderate amount of physical activity. This can be done in longer sessions of moderately intense activities (such as walking) or in shorter sessions of more vigorous activities (such as fast walking or stair-walking).

Warning signs for older adults

When you exercise, it's normal to have some minor muscle and joint soreness. But other signs may point to something more serious. Stop exercising if you think you might be having a heart attack. Call 911 right away. Symptoms include pain, pressure, or a strange feeling in your chest, back, neck, jaw, or upper belly, or in one or both shoulders or arms.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 26, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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