Watertown Personal Training and Weight Loss Center

Exercise and Older Adults

Personal Training in Watertown - Page Fitness

Hello everyone,

There is a growing number of older adults in America. Currently, it is estimated that there are about 40 million older adults. That number is expected to grow to over 92 million by 2060. A 2012 study by the US Census Bureau indicates the number of people over 65 will outnumber youth under 18 by 2056.5  Every year the number of older adults living in an institution offering at least one supportive service (nursing care, meal preparation, cleaning service etc.) increases. Between 2001 and 2012 showed a 1% increase in institutionalized older adults 65-74 years of age. The rates increased with age to 3% and 11% for older adults 75-84 and over 85 respectively6. Furthermore, the average person age 65 lives an additional 19 years. Men age 85 may live up to 6 years longer and women of same age another 7 years 1.

Health, Exercise, and Aging

The one study listed the top eight leading causes of death in persons over 65 in 2009. Heart disease topped the list followed by malignant neospasms (cancer), chronic lower respiratory disease, cerebrovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, pneumonia, and nephritis (inflammation of the kidneys)1. It is interesting to note that exercise and nutrition is a recognized preventative measure for most of these. It is recommended that all adults over 18 get some type of physical activity. Adults should do 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes weekly of vigorous aerobic physical activity4. Coordinated stretching routines should be incorporated at least twice a week.

There are some older adults whom cannot perform these recommended guidelines because of some chronic conditions. It is suggested that these individuals stay as physically active as possible. Older adults should concentrate on exercises that support balance to reduce the risk of falls. All older adults should collaborate with their doctor and fitness professional to establish a base fitness level. Together an effective activity program can be created and help the older adult understand how chronic conditions may affect their goals.

Regular exercise can help older adults retain daily independence. Programs designed to speed up reaction times are invaluable in adults over 60. The aging process brings about changes in the body. Many suffer from sarcopenic obesity. This is the chronic loss of muscle while simultaneously increasing fat mass. Sarcopenic obesity increases the chances of metabolic diseases in older adults. The loss of muscle is a primary contributor to increased risk of falling. Sadly, the fear of falling is just as damaging as the actual fall. The psychological impact of a fall encourages older adults to become less active thereby perpetuating the decrease in physical ability.

The loss of muscle affects the cardiovascular system as well. The reduction in smooth muscle elasticity can exacerbate complications from cardiovascular disease (CVD). Additionally, complications of endothelial dysfunction and atherosclerosis are linked to advancing age. Both can be controlled or prevented by adopting a regular exercise program.

It is accepted that the ankles are primarily responsible for posture and balance. Research suggests that exercises as simple as heel raise with alternating arm-reach can help increase ankle stability2. Physical activity may help older adults retain higher levels of mobility by increasing neuromuscular sensitivity3. Regular physical activity and exercise can promote increased release of neurotransmitters like dopamine, norepinephrine, and acetylcholine used by the central nervous system and peripheral nervous system. Incorporating a aerobic/strength training combination is best to improve overall behavioral responsiveness. 

In conclusion, incorporating an exercise program geared to promote aerobic fitness, strength and the ability to maintain activities of daily living are desirable. 85% of older adults suffer from at least one chronic condition and nearly 57% of national health care costs4. Taking small steps to regain independence and slow age-related chronic conditions can significantly reduce the $13,000.00 per person annual health care cost. We are all going to get older. The question is how are we planning to spend that time?

Stay healthy everyone,


  1. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. (2012, August). Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Food and Nutrition for Older Adults: Promoting Health and Wellness. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 112(8), 1255-1277. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2012.06.015
  2.        Fujiwara, K., Toyama, H., Asai, H., Yaguchi, C., Irei, M., Naka, M., & Kaida, C. (2011, September). Effects of Regular Heel Raise Training aimed at the Soleus Muscle on Dynamic Balance Associated with Arm Movement in Elderly Women. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 25(9), 2605-2615. Retrieved from www.nsca-jscr.org
  3.        National Academy of Sports Medicine. (2012). Senior Fitness Specialist Manual.
  4.        Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. (2015). Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee: Advisory Report to the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Secretary of Agriculture. Retrieved from www.health.gov
  5.        U.S. Census Bureau. (2012, December 12). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 24, 2015, from U.S. Census Bureau Projections Show a Slower Growing, Older, More Diverse Nation a Half Century from Now: http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/population/cb12-243.html
  6.        U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2012). A Profile of Older Americans: 2012. Administration on Aging.

Request Information Now!