Fitness Articles

65 Reasons Everyone over 65 Should Exercise

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For every exercise opportunity, there's an excuse waiting to thwart it—and we've heard them all, including "I'm too old." If that’s the case, though, how do you explain Monty Seidler or Bev Pressman? It's never too late for a fresh start, and there's no time like today to take that first step.

Of course, working out in your 60s is a bit different than it was in earlier decades. As you age, you're more prone to soreness and stiffness, and may have less mobility, flexibility and bone density. But the benefits of physical activity far outweigh any potential challenges or risks—and there are always modifications for any exercise.
 
According to the CDC, healthy adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week, and at least two days of muscle-strengthening activities. From physical perks to mental health, there are dozens of reasons to stay moving throughout the golden years.
  1. "Regular exercise in those over 65 improves bone health, reduces risk for depression and aids in maintaining HDL 'healthy' cholesterol." Dietitian Lisa Andrews, Sound Bites Nutrition
  2. "Studies have shown that exercise boosts memory and brain function and increases the white matter in the brain. It also reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and more. Most of all, exercise keeps you feeling and looking young!" Ultramarathoner Beth Weinstein, OnlyAtoms
  3. "As we age, daily activities, such as getting a heavy pot out of the cabinet or reaching for a sweater on the top shelf of the closet, slowly become more challenging. Regular exercise helps keep you strong so you don’t lose the ability to do these kinds of activities with ease." Jen Mueller, SparkPeople Health Coach
  4. "As we age, we lose muscle mass, causing a slowdown in metabolism and weakness in the body. Strength training can help slow the process and preserve muscle." Trainer Sarah Bright, Bright Fitness
  5. "With age, the likelihood for illness increases. Regardless of what hits you, if you are physically fit, you will recover faster." Exercise physiologist and author Rachel Straub
  6. "Older women are at greater risk for osteoporosis than males, making exercise incredibly important. Weight-bearing exercise will help strengthen bones and prevent the many symptoms and pains of osteoporosis. Our bones regrow every 10 years from the inside out, so the more often women are exercising and producing stronger bones, the better!" Mom Trainer Sarah Ann Kelly
  7. "After the age of retirement, activity level tends to drop and weight tends to go up, along with all the health conditions of being overweight. Making a conscious effort to exercise can help keep weight in check and prevent the onset of diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease." Nutrition author Toby Amidor
  8. "It's beneficial to participate in functional movements rather than isolation exercises. Some examples are squats with bicep curls or squats with a bent over row. Everyday tasks include bending down to pick something up, or getting up out of chairs or out of cars. It’s important to work those muscles that we recruit in daily tasks." Fitness trainer Cheryl Russo
  9. "Exercise helps to maintain bone health, which prevents fractures and breaks. Resistance exercise is essential to keeping the bones healthy, so any light weight training, jogging or body weight exercises are important to add to your daily routine." Registered dietitian Mandy Enright, Nutrition Nuptials
  10. "Exercise helps us connect to our bodies, which in turn increases awareness and empowers us to stay healthy and strong for a lifetime." Founder and creator of Burn, Lisa Corsello
  11. "Joints stiffen with age, as the ligaments and tendons have less elasticity. Exercise can improve joint mobility and reduce pain associated with aging." Trainer Sarah Bright, Bright Fitness
  12. "Exercising outdoors helps to naturally increase vitamin D exposure from sunlight, which is essential for calcium absorption and strong bones, and also decreases the risk of falling." JoAnn Yanez, N.D.
  13. "Regular exercise helps to boost mood and regulate sleep patterns. Not only does it release endorphins, but it's also a beneficial stressor to the body. The brain compensates for the physical stress by increasing the amount of time you spend in deep sleep." Founder and creator of Burn, Lisa Corsello
  14. "Looking toward the future at the daily activities that may become a challenge can help you to structure an exercise routine in the present. For example, some seniors have difficulty opening jars, and squeezing a ball may help with this. Some will have difficulty reaching for items in a cabinet, and should do exercises to improve shoulder mobility and strength." Fitness trainer Cheryl Russo
  15. Physical activity has been shown to decrease symptoms of depression in older adults.
  16. "Studies have consistently shown that exercise improves cognitive function and reduces the risk of dementia." Exercise physiologist and author Rachel Straub
  17. "A lot of the symptoms that we associate with old age—such as weakness and loss of balance—are actually symptoms of inactivity, not age." Dr. Alicia I. Arbaje on WebMD.
  18. "Improved balance will help to prevent falls and accidents. Simple exercises in your workouts—like standing on one leg, coordination drills and core stability exercises—will improve your balance, reaction, coordination and joint stability." Mom Trainer Sarah Ann Kelly
  19. Older people tend to heal slower after injury or surgery, but exercise can help speed up the healing and recovery process by reducing inflammation, research shows.
  20. "Specific exercises to improve balance and stability are vital for people over 65. Falls are the most common cause of injury and death in older adults, and balance exercises can help reduce that risk." Trainer Sarah Bright, Bright Fitness
  21. "Mild cardio can stave off cognitive decline, lower blood pressure and keep weight balanced." Fitness trainer Treva Brandon Scharf
  22. "It’s never too late to stay active and increase your lean body mass. This is especially important if you are ever admitted to the hospital. Research has shown that having inadequate lean body mass is correlated with an increased length of stay in the hospital." Registered dietitian Lisa Mikus, Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Services
  23. "Exercise—specifically core conditioning and functional fitness—improves balance, which declines as we age." Fitness trainer Treva Brandon Scharf
  24. "Keeping the legs and core strong, as well as the aerobic capacity, will enable seniors to walk up and down stairs without exerting a lot of effort if they live in a two-story home." Fitness trainer Cheryl Russo
  25. "Moderate intensity exercise can help lower systolic blood pressure." JoAnn Yanez, N.D.
  26. Building more muscle will help counteract the metabolism slowdown that typically comes with aging.
  27. "While the majority of bone building is done when we're young, weight-bearing exercises and strength training can help us keep the bone density we have and possibly improve it." Trainer Sarah Bright, Bright Fitness
  28. Adhering to a regular exercise program has just as much impact on the length of your life as quitting smoking.
  29. "Engaging in some type of cardio/aerobic activity keeps the heart working. Everyone wants to be able to participate in a leisurely stroll in their golden years." Fitness trainer Cheryl Russo
  30. "The honeymoon isn’t over at 65! Exercising helps keep you slim and trim and feeling good for date night." Registered dietitian and nutrition author Toby Amidor
  31. "Seniors should exercise in order to boost their memory power and to stay strong for their daily tasks. The more they exercise, the more they can maintain their balance, agility, strength and coordination. Plus, it will give them a greater quality of life and help them to be more independent as they continue to age." Fitness professional Angelique Millis
  32. Seniors who exercise regularly are more likely to have better digestive health.
  33. "Osteoporosis and fracture risk is an inevitable worry that comes with age. Proper exercise—particularly that which builds muscle and improves balance—is a well-established necessity for preserving bone loss and minimizing fall risk." Exercise physiologist and fitness author Rachel Straub
  34. "One reason people over 65 should exercise is for the social interaction. Research shows that as we get older, loneliness can be a serious health risk and lead to premature death. Regularly going to the gym, jogging with friends or chatting before a yoga class can greatly reduce feelings of depression linked to social isolation and increase longevity." Spinning instructor Kat Haselkorn
  35. "Studies have consistently shown that higher fitness levels delay the risk of all causes of mortality, particularly cancer and heart disease." Exercise physiologist and fitness author Rachel Straub
  36. "Regular exercise can cut down on the amount of daily medications seniors need to take." Maurice Williams, Move Well Fitness
  37. "Any movement will help to improve circulation." Fitness trainer Cheryl Russo
  38. "Any type of weight lifting, even light weights, improves muscle mass, which slowly deteriorates as we age. The more muscle mass on the body, the more efficient the body is at burning fat." Fitness trainer Cheryl Russo
  39. "If you don't use it, you lose it. Lack of exercise as we age speeds up our degradation of muscle. The more muscle we have and maintain, the more toned our appearance. Exercise keeps our bodies looking young!" Personal trainer Amira Lamb
  40. "A combination of resistance exercise and a high-quality, protein-rich diet is critical to prevent muscle loss as we age. Maintaining muscle mass prevents negative physiological outcomes associated with sarcopenia, or age-related muscle wasting, and can dramatically improve quality of life." Registered dietitian Laura Dilz, Lime & Greens Nutrition
  41. "Walking, even at a slow pace, is considered an impact movement, which helps improve bone density and wards off osteoporosis." Fitness trainer Cheryl Russo
  42. "Staying active sets a good example for the younger members of your family and sets an example of 'fitness for life.'" Founder and creator of Burn, Lisa Corsello
  43. "Exercise can strengthen our immune systems by keeping our lymphatic systems pumping. This becomes even more important as we age." Personal trainer Amira Lamb
  44. "People lose bone mass or density as they age, especially women after menopause. Strength training can help counteract this and actually increases bone density." Founder and creator of Burn, Lisa Corsello
  45. "Working out with partners or in classes can be a great social activity." Fitness trainer Treva Brandon Scharf
  46. "As you age, the propensity for poor posture heightens. Studies have found that poor posture decreases lung capacity, thereby increasing the risk of respiratory illness. Exercise aimed at postural enhancement is imperative not only to offset the natural instinct to slump as we age, but it’s also vital for preserving respiratory function." Exercise physiologist and fitness author Rachel Straub
  47. "Exercise over 60 can help control and reduce symptoms of many chronic illnesses." Personal trainer and owner of A-Team Fitness Alex McBrairty
  48. "Exercise may prevent and/or delay disease. In some cases, diabetes and heart disease can be reversed, or at least mitigated, through physical activity." JoAnn Yanez, N.D.
  49. "Taking a class that incorporates cardio and strength training requires the person to follow the directions of the instructor. This works the mind and body. The brain is a muscle that also needs to be exercised in order to remain healthy." Fitness trainer Cheryl Russo
  50. "Exercise makes you feel young again!" Fitness trainer Treva Brandon Scharf
  51. "As we age, we naturally lose muscle mass and physical strength. Loss of muscle mass and strength with age leads to disability and loss of independence. Proper exercise—particularly strength training—is imperative to attenuate this process." Exercise physiologist and fitness author Rachel Straub
  52. "Exercise helps seniors improve their strength, leading to more independence and better quality of life." Personal trainer and owner of A-Team Fitness Alex McBrairty
  53. Physical activity could reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.
  54. "Active grandparents are better able to keep up with their grandkids." Maurice Williams, Move Well Fitness
  55. "Movement is the the original fountain of youth. Weight-bearing exercises, like walking and resistance training, help keep your bones and muscles strong and keep you looking and feeling young. Who doesn't want that?" ACE-certified personal trainer Shane McLean
  56. "Exercise helps to mobilize the joints and can reduce the pain and stiffness often associated with arthritis, and may even prevent arthritis in some cases." JoAnn Yanez, N.D.
  57. You can find exercise classes and routines designed specifically for older adults, which helps to ease the transition into fitness.
  58. "Muscles and joints will stiffen with age, and regular exercise will increase joint fluid and muscle-joint connections. Regular exercise of all kinds will help support joints and prevent injuries." Mom Trainer Sarah Ann Kelly
  59. "Exercise and activity can help provide the stamina and physical capability to keep up with the things that bring us joy." JoAnn Yanez, N.D.
  60. "Balance exercises are extremely important. This is another area that seniors struggle with as they age. It’s best to be proactive and practice exercises that work on balance and core strength." Fitness trainer Cheryl Russo
  61. "Find a class of your peers and make some new friends! Social connections are so important, and knowing that people will miss you if you don't come to class is motivating. A class specifically for older adults is wonderful for learning appropriate exercises, getting modifications for your needs and meeting people." Trainer Sarah Bright, Bright Fitness
  62. "You're never too old to start building muscle." Fitness trainer Franklin Antoian, iBodyFit
  63. "Stretching is vital. Flexibility staves off muscle and ligament strains and tears." Fitness trainer Cheryl Russo
  64. Seniors who exercise regularly will develop stronger cardiovascular systems and have lower cholesterol levels, which reduces the risk of artery blockages and heart attacks.
  65. "Bottom line, no matter what your age, you need to exercise. Different stages of life will require different muscle recruitment levels, but to function daily, it is rare that a muscle will not be used." Fitness trainer Cheryl Russo
Ready to start reaping the benefits? Here's what you need to know about starting a fitness program after 60.

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Member Comments

  • It's a complete list and a good one but I would also like to see contributing authors focus more on the medical issues that some of us have over 65. I was healthy (so to speak) unitil age 59 - then a hearing and balance issue took over and it's been a steady decline since.
  • I like that emphasis on exercise by so many appeared in a fantastic list!
  • My maternal grandfather used to say "its better to wear out than rust out" I guess that's why he lived to 97
  • I recently had labs done and my Cholesterol has dropped from 199 to 137, HDL 53, LDL 64 down from over 100. My Doctor said I was the picture of health! Woohoo!! Thank to SparkPeople and learning to eat healthy! Great Article and so informative!
  • I have found that since retirement I have become more active. Now I have the time to take care of myself. I walk 2 miles every week day and have just started adding in strength exercises. Exercising just makes me feel so much better.
  • JANETEMILY
    I turned 60 in August. I walk seven days a week, and circuit train at least 5 days a week. Even though I am still trying to lose weight, my blood tests this summer showed everything, including cholesterol and blood sugar were all normal (HDL was 74), and I don't take medication for either. I have no joint or mobility problems,and I haven't had a cold for two years... Every time I think about taking a few days off, I remember these things and do it anyway!
  • My parents are 67 and 69 and although they both are not obese or have concerns regarding what they eat, they do not involve any type of exercise at all.
    Excellent article.
  • I joined SP last year when I was 68. I am now 69. Since joining, I have lost 73 pounds, was able to go off blood pressure meds, stop taking a beta blocker and cut my cholesterol med in half. I can now run up and down the stairs in my house and walk 6 miles per day. I might be 69 but my body feels like it's 50. I am stronger now than I was in my late 50's and early 60's. So, please don't let anyone tell you it's too late to get healthy.
  • Great article, it's a keeper! I also want to recommend Callanetics, which came out in the 80's -- an excellent program that I'm getting back into. What I like about Callanetics is she continuously warns you to relax your muscles (like a rag doll) -- so very important during stretching to avoid injury .
  • GREAT article! I'm mid 60's, I find my Sheppard Pilates DVD is the number 1 thing to keep me flexible! I also do high intensity Zumba, because of SP tools & tips! I know several people in their 80's that are VERY active, because of stretching & walking!
  • Love this article. Thank you
  • While I am not quite 60 (currently 56), I see so many of my friends and just the general public falling out of active lifestyles and the damage that does to them on so many levels, robbing them of quality of life. It was happening to me and due to menopause, I almost believed that the changes were inevitable and that no matter what I did, I couldn't expect to have the vibrant health I have treasured and enjoyed throughout my life. After almost 5 years of expecting less and less of my fitness routine in particular, I decided to fight back. I started a blog to share the struggles in an extremely honest and frank manner, including Before photos and regular After photos. The link to the first photos are below and the last set of After pics have been included as well. I think that giving up is the worst thing we can do and I am so glad I decided to take back my life. Now I am working on inspiring others and becoming a CPT. I do a lot of coaching-mentally and physically, and am willing to help anyone who needs it. While the change in my physical appearance is pretty dramatic-I think I am in the best shape of my life at 56- the change in my attitude has been the biggest bonus of this journey. I encourage any who feel that they are too old to just start a fitness program. The smallest steps forward will equal big changes so please-just go for it!
    Before photos:
    http://www.fift
    yfierce.com/s
    ingle-post/20
    16/1/7/FiftyF
    ierce-Challenged

    Latest After photos (from 6/25/2016)-proves the work has been so worth it:
    http://www.fift
    yfierce.com/s
    ingle-post/20
    16/06/24/And-
    The-Winner-Is
  • Wonderful article! I would love to see more articles aimed at the over 60 crowd! Thanks!

About The Author

Melissa Rudy Melissa Rudy
A lifelong Cincinnatian, Melissa earned a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from University of Cincinnati before breaking into online writing in 2000. As a Digital Journalist for SparkPeople, she enjoys helping others meet their wellness goals by writing about all aspects of healthy living. An avid runner and group fitness addict, Melissa lives in Loveland with her guitarist husband and three feisty daughters.

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