Almost anyone, at any age, can do some type of physical activity. You can still exercise even if you have a health condition like heart disease, arthritis, chronic pain, high blood pressure, or diabetes. In fact, physical activity may help. For most older adults, physical activities like brisk walking, riding a bike, swimming, weightlifting, and gardening are safe, especially if you build up slowly.
Researchers are assessing the benefit of exercise to delay mild cognitive impairment (MCI) in older adults and to improve brain function in older adults who may be at risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease. Older adults with MCI may be able to safely do more vigorous forms of exercise, similar to older adults without MCI, provided there are no other underlying health concerns.
Being active and getting exercise may help people with Alzheimer’s or another dementia feel better and can help them maintain a healthy weight and have regular toilet and sleep habits. If you are a caregiver, you can exercise together to make it more fun.
Flexibility exercises such as upper- and lower-body stretching and tai chi can help keep joints moving, relieve stiffness, and give you more freedom of movement for everyday activities.
Strengthening exercises, such as overhead arm raises, will help you maintain or add to your muscle strength to support and protect your joints.
Endurance exercises make the heart and arteries healthier and may lessen swelling in some joints. Try activities that don’t require a lot of weight on your joints, such as swimming and biking.
If you have arthritis, you may need to avoid some types of activity when joints are swollen or inflamed. If you have pain in a specific joint area, for example, you may need to focus on another area for a day or two.
For people with diabetes, exercise and physical activity can help manage the disease and help you stay healthy longer. Walking and other forms of daily exercise can help improve glucose levels in older people with diabetes. Set a goal to be more active most days of the week, and create a plan for being physically active that fits into your life and that you can follow. Your healthcare team can help.
Your heart keeps your body running. As you grow older, some changes in the heart and blood vessels are normal, but others are caused by disease. Choices you might make every day, such as eating healthy, maintaining a healthy weight, and aiming to be more physically active, can contribute to heart health. Inactive people are nearly twice as likely to develop heart disease as those who are active.
Weight-bearing exercises, which force you to work against gravity, such as walking, jogging, or dancing three to four times a week, are best for building muscle and strengthening bones. Try some strengthening and balance exercises, too, to help avoid falls, which could cause a broken bone. Doing these exercises is good for bone health for people with osteoporosis and those who want to prevent it.Older woman working out
Most people living with chronic pain can exercise safely, and it can assist with pain management. In fact, being inactive can sometimes lead to a cycle of more pain and loss of function. Talk to your doctor about what exercises/activities might be right for you. Each type of exercise—endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility—has its own benefits, so a combination may be best.