Physical Activity as You Get Older - Topic Overview
Being active can make life
Many people become less active
as they age, but staying active—or getting active, if you
aren't already—has definite benefits.
- Aerobic exercise strengthens
your heart—which improves your health—and gives you more energy to do the
things you like to do. It can also increase the amount of sleep you
get at night and may reduce the time it takes for you to fall asleep.
Water exercise may be a good choice for some older adults.
- Strengthening exercises can help you
maintain your muscle, strengthen bones, and protect knees and other joints.
These exercises include
resistance training, such as lifting weights.
- Flexibility and stretching—which help provide a full range of
motion for muscles and
joints—can help you function at home, at work, and
socially. Everyday tasks that are hard for you, such as tying shoelaces or reaching
to a shelf, may become easier. When you stay flexible, you also keep a more
natural walking pattern and decrease your chance of falling. Most flexibility
that seems to be lost through aging is caused not by aging
but by inactivity or lack of movement.
- Balance exercises help you have good
posture. They can also be helpful to improve coordination and reduce your risk
for falls. One type of balance exercise is to stand on one leg for 10 seconds.
Stand on a flat surface and use a stable object (such as a heavy chair) for
support. Yoga classes or DVDs can teach you poses that help improve
Being active can keep you
Exercise also has
these specific health benefits for older adults.
heart failure symptoms and shortens hospital
- Helps keep postmenopausal women
from losing bone density.
- Helps joints work better, with less pain,
- Improves sleep and reduces
- Helps your brain work better and improves
- May lower the risk of some cancers.
- Lowers the risk of:
- Hip and spinal fractures.
- Coronary artery disease.
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
moderately intense activities (such as walking) or in
shorter sessions of more
vigorous activities (such as fast walking or