Staying in Shape as You Age
Many Benefits From Exercise
- Increased muscle mass, strength, and flexibility
- Lower body fat, especially in the abdomen
- Higher metabolic rate and less tendency to gain weight
- Improved ability to do everyday tasks
- Better balance and less risk of falls or fractures
- Increased joint mobility and less arthritic pain
- Decreased risk of many chronic diseases, including:
- Increased longevity (decreased death rate from all causes)
- Improved quality of life (greater self-sufficiency and independence)
Recommendations for Getting Fit
- Do moderately-intense exercise (raises your heart rate, but you are still able to have a conversation) for 30 minutes a day for five days out of the week, or do more vigorous exercise for 20 minutes a day for three days out of the week. Remember that if you exercise more, you will get more benefits! If you are unable to meet the activity guidelines, strive to be as active as you can be.
- Do a strength training routine at least twice a week.
- Do activities that promote flexibility.
- Do balance exercises to reduce your risk of falling.
Precautions Before You Begin
- Start slowly, gradually increasing your time and intensity. Experts generally recommend a low-to-moderate level of low-impact exercise, such as walking, biking, or swimming for older adults.
- Do low-intensity warm-up and cool-down activities. This allows time for your body to adjust. It also helps prevent your blood pressure from dropping, which can happen if you suddenly stop exercising.
- Pace yourself so you can still talk comfortably during exercise. Or learn to check your pulse rate.
- Drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after exercising.
- Stop your activity and consult a doctor immediately if you have chest pain or pressure, dizziness, nausea, abnormal heartbeats, trouble with breathing or balance, or other unusual symptoms.
American Heart Association http://www.americanheart.org/
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/
Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute http://www.cflri.ca/eng/lifestyle/index.php/
Healthy Living Unit http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/pau-uap/fitness/
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- Reviewer: Brian Randall, MD
- Review Date: 05/2012 -
- Update Date: 05/23/2012 -