Exercise for Healthy Aging

Surprisingly, the expectation for healthy aging of your body is that if you exercise enough you won't get any diseases and you'll be skinny--just isn't true. There are definite health benefits of regular and appropriate exercise, especially for senior citizens, but they are NOT:

  • weight loss
  • immunity to heart disease
  • immunity to cancers

To understand why not, refer to Judith's article below.

What is Does Benefit

Now, don't lose heart! You will benefit from regular (and appropriate) exercise in some clearly substantial ways:

  • improved mood
  • maintaining strength
  • maintaining mobility
  • rein in rising blood sugar in pre-diabetics
  • lower blood pressure, and perhaps the least obvious--
  • positive effect on other healthy life habits: increased intake of fruits and vegetables, decreased desire to smoke, etc.

...and then, there's Sarcopenia

Twice in our life, we experience a loss of muscle fibers, muscle mass, and their corresponding strength. That's called, "Sarcopenia." And it sounds likes the opposite of healthy aging of one's body. The first time these changes begin is usually the mid 40's....

...which is why I've just taken up strength training (aka: resistance training). And I have to admit: it works!

...and our bodies change again at around 65 to 70 years. Sarcopenia leads to:

  • less strength
  • slower reaction times
  • increased risk of injury
  • reduced ability to do fine movements, and
  • an increased risk of injury and falls

Does this sound familiar to you? Senior health all the way. How many seniors have you known who've fallen, broken hips, lost the ability to knit or open can lids?

Jason Parker, a cellular nutritionist from Canada, offers good information about senior health on his home workout for seniors site; this link takes you to the page showing balance exercises for seniors to do in their home.

Natural Health Tips for Healthy Aging

You may have noticed I added "and appropriate" to the description of exercise above--twice. That was on purpose. Some forms will suit seniors better than others. Aerobercise--NO! But, stationary cycling--Yes.

Qigong--a form of T'ai Chi--definitely YES.


If I were to make a short list of most beneficial forms of physical activity for seniors, it would look like this: Exercises for Healthy Aging

  • yoga--but not "hot yoga"
  • strength training (aka: resistance training, or progressive resistance training)
  • weight-bearing exercise (include walking and running, but not jogging--which jars every joint on your body!)
  • swimming
  • swim aerobics/cardio swim
  • Feldenkrais
  • and, my favorite for seniors: Qigong

To see the page I've devoted to Qigong, follow this link.


Or, read on for Judith's article.

How helpful is Exercise?

*** published through Creative Commons on September 29, 2008

Sometimes it sounds that if you exercise enough that you won’t get any diseases and will be skinny. How helpful is exercise really?

One of the problems of studying exercise is that those who tend to regularly exercise often have different habits from those who do not exercise. Additionally, when a person who has been doing no exercise decides to take up exercise they are likely to alter other things like smoking less, or eating more fruit and vegetable. This makes it very hard to study just the effects of exercise alone.

There is no doubt for overweight people, that when compared to those that do not exercise, those that do exercise have a lower risk of diabetes. Exercise has been shown to help control blood sugar in those whose blood sugar is starting to rise (prediabetic). It has also been shown to have positive effects on blood pressure, for those with high blood pressure.

One benefit that seems to be universally agreed upon is the benefit of exercise for the elderly. This is a case of keeping strength and mobility. This reduces the likelihood of falling and keeping active helps with general well being including less depression.

The benefit of exercising on losing weight, it's been known for a while, turns out to be quite small. Those that exercise only lose weight slightly faster than those who do not exercise. The benefit of exercising (or is it lifestyle changes?) is seen more for weight maintenance. Those who exercise are more likely to keep the weight off.

Why is exercise not of greater value to weight loss? The answer is that most people do not do enough exercise to burn that many calories. Most people burn less than 100 calories per mile.

The benefits on other diseases is much less clear. Even the effects of exercise on heart disease are open to argument. The effects on various cancers that have been studied is even more controversial.

This has led to some thinking that moderate exercise is good for you, but is not going to fix as much as is often indicated. It is just part of a healthy lifestyle. **end of submitted article

I hope this information has been helpful to you in your pursuit of healthy aging! Here's wishing you good effort and good results, whatever form of exercise you decide to explore.

Return to healthy aging from exercise and exercise article page.

Head on over to Healthy-Alternative-Solutions home page.