Physical Activity & Exercise
Regular physical activity is a critical element to maintaining health throughout the lifespan. Several years ago, exercise, viewed as an option of young and middle aged adults, was considered to have minimal benefit for older adults and at times, thought to be harmful for this age group. Research over the past twenty years has demonstrated that regular physical activity is a known, effective strategy for reducing morbidity and mortality for older adults. In addition, it has been shown to be an effective treatment for some common health problems such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and osteo-arthritis.
Many older adults experience memory problems or cognitive decline. Physical activity is an effective strategy to prevent or minimize the cognitive impairments once thought to be an inevitable outcome from aging. Research has demonstrated that among older adults without known cognitive impairment, aerobic physical activated improves cognitive function. Physical activity provides other physical and mental health benefits. Older adults who engage in moderate exercise on a regular basis demonstrate a decreased incidence of depression, high self-esteem, and improved sleep patterns.
Exercise is safe for people of all ages and even moderate exercise will have numerous health benefits. Sedentary men over 40 years of age and women over 50 years of age should consult with their primary care before beginning a new exercise program. The four areas of physical activity recommended for older adults are: strength, balance, flexibility, and endurance. (Rowe, J.W., 2005).