- In general, people become less physically active as they get older. Nearly 40 percent of people over the age of 55 report no leisure-time physical activity.
- The older people become, the more they need regular exercise. It helps prevent bone loss (reducing the risk of fractures) and reduces the risk of dozens of diseases associated with aging. It also increases muscle strength and may improve balance and coordination, which can reduce the likelihood of falling. It also increases the ability for basic living, making it easier to carry grocery bags, get up from a chair and take care of household chores. Being physically active is a real key in maintaining quality of life and independence.
- Studies have shown that increased levels of physical activity are associated with a reduced incidence of coronary heart disease, hypertension, non-insulin-dependent Type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, depression and anxiety.
- Active people with high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, diabetes or other chronic diseases are less likely to die prematurely than inactive people with these conditions.
- Inactive people lose muscle fiber at a rate of 3 to 5 percent every decade after age 30. That's a 15 percent loss of muscle fiber by age 60!
- Health experts warn that as a consequence of diminished exercise tolerance, a large and increasing number of elderly people will be living below, at, or just above "thresholds of physical ability." In this condition, a minor illness could make them completely dependent on others for their daily care.
This content was last reviewed on 03/22/2013.