Q: My father, who’s 78, says he’s “too old and creaky” to exercise. Is that a good excuse?
A: In a word, no. Regular physical activity is important for maintaining good health and quality of life at every age. In a recent study, researchers worked with 213 sedentary adults between the ages of 70 to 89 with a variety of health problems. More than half were able to engage in regular moderate exercise for a year, and the more they stuck with their program, the more they improved their overall physical functioning. This builds on research showing that yoga, tai chi, walking and weight training benefit people of all ages.
Anyone with health problems should consult with their doctor before starting an exercise program, and take it slowly. It’s important to remember that exercise can mean a lot of things–not just jogging or doing laps. Walking, gardening, doing housework, dancing–all of this counts as activity. The point is to start moving, stretching, and strengthening the body. It is hard to break the sedentary habit, but once people do, they feel better physically and emotionally.
Got a health question for Dr. Brent? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.