Best Types of Exercise for Older Adults

senior Asian couple doing tai chi outside

Your later years are not the time to give up on exercise. Regular physical activity can help make everyday tasks easier and help you live independently in old age. But according to the National Institutes of Health, only about 30% of people ages 45 to 64 say they engage in regular leisure-time physical activity. The number falls to 25% for those between 65 and 74 and to just 11% for people 85 and older.

Physical activity can improve your balance, increase your strength, improve your mood, and help control conditions like diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, and depression. It can also lower your risk of developing some types of cancer.

Experts recommend 4 types of exercise for older adults:

  1. Endurance exercises such as brisk walking and dancing improve the health of your heart, lungs, and circulatory system. These exercises can make it easier for you to do things like mow the lawn and climb stairs.
  2. Strength exercises like lifting weights and using resistance bands can increase muscle strength that you need for activities including carrying groceries and lifting grandchildren.
  3. Balance exercises can help prevent falls – a major health risk for older adults. Try standing on one foot or taking a tai chi class.
  4. Stretching or flexibility exercises like yoga can give you more freedom of movement for bending to tie your shoes or looking over your shoulder as you back out of the driveway.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master's-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

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