Exercise is critical for people of all ages. Earlier studies have reported that people in their 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s can significantly increase their muscle strength and the capacity of their heart and lungs through regular exercise.
Even small amounts of exercise can greatly increase heart and lung capacity in middle-aged and older folks. A French study had nineteen formerly sedentary older adults (average age 65 years) work out on a stationary bike for thirty minutes for twice a week. After nine weeks of workouts, the average heart and lung capacity increased by an average of 10%!. An increase in heart and lung capacity of 10% means that a 65-year-old person has heart and lungs about as strong as a sedentary person ten or twenty years younger! It is amazing that exercising only one hour per week can make an older person’s heart and lungs ten to twenty years younger in capacity! This research was published in the November 2009 International Journal of Clinical Practice.
A recent German study enrolled a group of 123 women over aged 65 years in an 18 month exercise class program. The exercises consisted of aerobic dancing and some stretching and strengthening exercises for 1 hour twice a week. After 18 months, this group of women had significantly higher levels of muscle, significantly less fat, significantly higher muscle strength and significantly better heart and lung fitness. The study was published by Kemmler et al. in the March 2010 American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
People over 65 years should say “I am too old NOT to exercise”. Older adults should pick some exercises they enjoy and stick with regular exercise. Brisk walking, swimming, bicycling (regular or stationary), weight lifting, dancing, exercise class, tennis, golf (walking the course) and vigorous housework and yardwork are all excellent exercise. Oftentimes, participation with friends, family or in a larger group makes exercise more fun and easier to stick with in the long run.