Aging: Too Old to Benefit From Exercise? Pish!



Researchers divided a group of 64 volunteers with an average age of 84 into three groups. The first group exercised by walking, the second did resistance training, and a control group did no exercise.
After 16 weeks of regular exercise twice a week, the exercise groups had lower systolic blood pressure, improved upper and lower body strength, improved hip and shoulder flexibility and improvements in tests of agility, balance and coordination when compared with members of the group that did not exercise.
All of the participants, who ranged in age from 66 to 96, were healthy enough to take care of daily tasks on their own, but some exercisers used canes or walkers during their sessions. Three-quarters of the participants were women, and only five participants were younger than 75. The study appears in the February issue of The Journal of Aging and Health.
Ross Andel, a co-author of the study, suggested that the exercise program would also be suitable for older people who had greater handicaps. "Based on our findings," he said, "it is reasonable to expect that a similar exercise program would be successful in older individuals who have difficulties in activities of daily living." Dr. Andel is an assistant professor of gerontology at the School of Aging Studies at the University of South Florida.
Both the resistance program and the walking program led to significant improvements, leading Dr. Andel to suggest that the exercise itself, and not the type of exercise, provides the benefit. "It is at least as important to exercise in advanced age as earlier in life," he said.

Published: February 28, 2006

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