UACES Facebook Physical Activity and Aging

Exercise

females exercising

The benefits of regular exercise for people of all ages have been well established in the literature. Regular physical activity and exercise are associated with decreased risk of death and/or disability from pathologies such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis, cancer and pulmonary disease. It is also associated with positive psycho - logical benefits such as decreased depression and improved quality of life. Nevertheless, inactivity continues to be a major public health concern with people not exercising as recommended. By dispelling misunderstandings and increasing understanding of the new recommendations for physical activity, individuals can once again find the time for exercise.

What Type of Exercise Do You Need?

The National Institute on Aging and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services both recommend performing different types or kinds of exercise. Participation in all four types of exercise is needed for the full health benefit of physical activity. The types of exercise are balance, endurance or aerobics, strength training or weight lifting, and stretching or flexibility. The key to fitness is to do all four of the major types of exercise regularly and increase your level of intensity over time.


One woman and two men in a row doing balance exercises with arms outstretched in front of them and right foot slightly forward.

Balance exercises

Balance exercises help prevent falls, not an
uncommon problem in older adults. Falling is a
major cause of broken hips and other injuries that
often lead to disability and loss of independence.
Some balance exercises build up your leg muscles,
while other exercises focus on your stability.
Examples of balance exercises include several
strength exercises for the lower body such as side
leg raises and toe stands, as well as stability exer-
cises such as heel-to-toe walking and the stork
pose (standing on one foot with arms held out to 
the side).


Three African American women with arms outstretched to their sides and slightly lunging to their right.

Endurance exercises

 

Endurance exercises increase your breathing
and heart rate. They improve the health of your
heart, lungs and circulatory system. Increased
endurance keeps you healthier and improves
stamina for daily activities. Endurance exercises
may also delay or even prevent many diseases
associated with aging, such as heart disease
and diabetes.


Examples of endurance exercises are walking,
jogging, dancing and playing tennis.
Strength training makes you stronger by
building muscle. This increased strength allows
you to perform daily activities on your own.
Strength training also plays a key role in keep -
ing obesity and diabetes at bay by increasing
your metabolism, which helps you maintain a
healthy weight and normal blood sugar levels.
Additionally, studies suggest strength training
may help prevent the progression of osteoporosis.
Examples of strength training exercises
include lifting or pushing free weights, pulling
resistance bands and using strength-training
equipment at a fitness center or gym.


Two women in front row and two men in back row holding onto the back of a chair while doing a calf stretch.

Stretching exercise

Stretching exercises keep your body flexible by
stretching the muscles and tissues that hold your
bones together.  While exercising, rate your perception
of your total feeling of exertion, combining all sensa-
tions and feelings of physical stress. Looking
at the rating scale below while you are engag-
ing in an activity, choose the number that best
describes your level of exertion.

Two women in front row and two men in back row standing by their chairs holding weights in both hands palms up at waist level.

Strength exercise

Strength training makes you stronger by
building muscle. This increased strength allows
you to perform daily activities on your own.
Strength training also plays a key role in keep -
ing obesity and diabetes at bay by increasing
your metabolism, which helps you maintain a
healthy weight and normal blood sugar levels.
Additionally, studies suggest strength training
may help prevent the progression of osteoporosis.
Examples of strength training exercises
include lifting or pushing free weights, pulling
resistance bands and using strength-training
equipment at a fitness center or gym.