Exercise: A Guide from the National Institute on Aging

Introduction

Welcome to one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself. Exercise! Regular exercise and physical activity are very important to the health and abilities of older people. In fact, studies suggest that not exercising is risky behavior. That is why we wrote this book. We are the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health, and our research is aimed at improving the health of older people.

For the most part, when older people lose their ability to do things on their own, it doesn't happen just because they have aged. More likely, it is because they have become inactive. Older inactive adults lose ground in four areas that are important for staying healthy and independent: endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility.

Fortunately, research suggests that you can maintain or at least partly restore these four areas through exercise -- or through everyday physical activities (walking briskly or gardening, for example) that accomplish some of the same goals as exercise. What may seem like very small changes resulting from exercise and physical activity can have a big impact.