Fitness for Older Adults – Frequently Asked Questions

I haven’t exercised in years — Why should I start now?

Even if you’ve never been active, it’s never too late to reap the many health benefits of regular exercise. Regular cardiovascular exercise, such as brisk walking, bicycling or swimming strengthens the heart and muscles, boosts energy and endurance. It also helps control blood sugar and cholesterol levels and works as a natural mood elevator. Being sedentary raises the risk for developing such serious health conditions as diabetes and heart disease. Strength exercise, or resistance training, helps preserve muscle tissue and bone health. It’ll help you stay strong, so you can go about your normal daily activities.

I have several medical conditions — Is exercise safe for me?

Consult with your health care provider before starting an exercise program. Ask about precautions specific to your condition and which exercises are beneficial and safe for you. Regular exercise helps manage health conditions and can speed up the recovery process of serious illnesses, including heart attack, stroke and joint-replacement surgery. Your doctor may recommend that you start exercising in a medically supervised setting before you exercise on your own.

Is strength-training a good idea at my age?

Strength training is critical for older adults. Adults lose 4-6 lbs. of muscle tissue per decade, which means a significant loss of body strength and a lower resting metabolism. Older adults who undergo a structured strength-training program have shown to regain lost muscle mass, increase their strength, metabolism, bone density and balance and improve their quality of life. One study linked muscular strength to reduced stiffness in the aorta, the major artery carrying blood from the heart to the rest of the body, which can reduce the risk of death from cardiovascular events, independent of current aerobic fitness levels. However, if calorie intake isn’t also reduced, fat weight increases.