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Fitness for older adults

June 11, 2010

Fitness for Older Adults Vol.Journal of the American Medical association, vol 300, no 9, Sept 3 2008

  • Keeping active and remaining fit can help prolong your life and can even help prevent or delay illnesses or disabilities as you grow older.
  • Being active helps lower your risk of falls and developing heart disease and diabetes
  • can help you live on your own longer.
  • safe for most older adults—even for those with stable chronic conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis. Your doctor can advise you about the safety of certain activities and increasing your fitness level.

  • regular physical activity can improve mental function in older adults with memory complaints.


  • Choose activities you enjoy.
  • Make being fit part of your everyday life. Playing with children, gardening, walking, dancing, and housecleaning are just a few activities that can improve your fitness.
  • Combine a range of activities that include aerobic activity (see below), strengthening, flexibility, and balance.
  • Start slowly and gradually build up to a total of at least 30 minutes of activity a day on most days of the week. Activities can be broken up throughout the day.
  • Keep safety in mind. Always wear comfortable, well-fitting shoes and use appropriate safety gear. Avoid outdoor activities in extreme cold or heat. Drink plenty of fluids while engaging in physical activity.


  • Aerobic activities (exercises that increase oxygen use to improve heart and lung function) such as walking, gardening, and swimming can help strengthen your heart and lower your blood pressure and cholesterol. They can also improve your mood and sleep.
  • Strengthening activities, such as repetitive lifting of light weights or even household items such as canned foods, can improve your muscle and bone health. Strengthening leg and hip muscles with leg weight exercises can help reduce your risk of falls.
  • Flexibility and balancing exercises, such as tai chi, stretching, and yoga, can help prevent injuries and stiff joints.

Stop the activity and contact your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Pain or pressure in your chest, arms, neck, or jaw
  • Feeling lightheaded, nauseated, or weak
  • Becoming short of breath
  • Developing pain in your legs, calves, or back
  • Having an uncomfortable sensation of your heart beating too fast

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