PAMF Health Blog

Be Well, Be Well Informed

Benefits of Exercise for Older Adults

Posted on May 3, 2011


 The health benefits of exercise continue throughout life. In this blog post, Dr. Minerva Navarro, a family medicine physician in the Geriatrics Department at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, discusses benefits of exercise as you age, and offers these tips.

I tell my older patients each day, it is never too late to reap the benefits of regular exercise. No matter how long it has been since you exercised, or how old you are, you can find an appropriate exercise to boost your fitness, energy and overall well-being.

Muscle strength begins to decline after age 50, but regular exercise can make still you stronger and improve your health. There are many benefits to seniors who exercise, beyond an overall improvement in fitness level. For example, regular exercise can lower the prevalence of risk factors linked to heart disease, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

Regular exercise can also lower your risk of depression and lessen the severity of depressive symptoms, including feelings of sadness, lack of enjoyment being with friends or doing things you typically like to do, sleeplessness, unexplained aches and pains, and feelings of hopelessness.

Once you have decided to launch a fitness program, where do you begin? Building physical fitness involves regularly working the heart, lungs and muscles. Ideally, seniors (like all adults) should get some form of aerobic exercise at least three times a week.

Talk with your doctor before starting your exercise program. Consider a low-impact exercise that is less likely to cause bone or joint injuries. Some examples include:

  • Water aerobics or swimming
  • Walking, hiking or jogging
  • Dancing
  • Light weights and calisthenics
  • Cycling
  • Bowling
  • Golfing
  • Yoga or Tai-chi

It is never too late to get back into shape and drink from the fountain of youth that regular exercise provides. Before you have time to talk yourself out of it, just lace up those tennis shoes and start your exercise program today. I wish you a happy, healthy life.

Dr. Minerva Navarro is a family medicine physician in the Geriatrics Department at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation.Dr. Minerva Navarro