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Benefits of Exercise for the Elderly Study

Benefits of Exercise Elderly People

No, this isn’t Doug

Researchers in Portugal at the University of Coimbra conducted a recent study on sedentary individuals.

However, this group of sedentary people who were recruited for the study had an average age of 76. Of the 63 total participants in this study, they were randomized to a control group, progressive aerobic, and a progressive strength training group. The exercise itself was scheduled at three times per week for a total of 16 weeks.

I personally couldn’t imagine taking up exercise at the age of 76 if I had been previously sedentary. Of course, you should always discuss exercise plans with your doctor, particularly if you have any medical conditions. For those who’re around the age of the study participants, this is of greater importance. I don’t imagine many in that age group read this blog, but you never know, right?

What the researchers found in this study was that even people who started exercise at an average age of 76, experienced significant benefits on metabolic health indicators.

Results:  Exercise Benefits for the Elderly

  • Reductions in body weight, waist circumference, body mass index
  • Improvement in diastolic blood pressure
  • Improvement in blood lipid profiles – triglycerides, total cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, total cholesterol/HDL-cholesterol relationship
  • Decreased C-reactive protein (a market of inflammation)
  • Increase in 6-minute walk distance

[box type=”important”]Bottom line: It looks like it’s never too late to experience health benefits from exercise. Specifically these benefits include weight loss, lower cholesterol levels, blood pressure, markers of inflammation–not to mention improvements in actual fitness.[/box]

From the Study Authors:

“In conclusion, the training programs used in this study produced significant benefits on 6-minute walk distance, DBP, BW, WC, BMI, TG, TC, HDL-C, LDL-C, TC/HDL-C, and hs-CRP. Accordingly, the results of the current study suggest that moderate intensity aerobic-based and strength-based programs, with 16 weeks of duration, are enough to positively influence the metabolic health indicators of sedentary older women and men.”

Note:  Though the two groups were divided into aerobic and strength training protocols, it doesn’t seem that the study authors made note of any differences between these two groups.  A previous study involving a much younger population suggested that a combination of strength and endurance training was more effective than either alone for weight loss and improving health.


  1. Martins RA, Veríssimo MT, Coelho E Silva MJ, Cumming SP, Teixeira AM. Effects of aerobic and strength-based training on metabolic health indicators in older adults. Lipids Health Dis. 2010 Jul 22;9(1):76.


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  3. Rain Jacket

    November 22, 2010 at 1:53 am

    assisted living is nice if you got some people and a home that cares very much to its occupants ,:`

  4. Promart Supplements

    November 21, 2010 at 7:46 am

    Linford Christie is still in awesome shape at 50, Odd Haugen still competes in World’s Strongest Man aged 57 and many health conscious natural bodybuilders retain a great physique into old age too. I think a good diet and a healthy lifestyle, combined with careful training avoiding injuries can allow anyone at any age to improve their phsyique and overall health, reducing cholesterol, etc. as stated in the article.

  5. Max - The IT Pro

    November 11, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    I believe in the maxim of “pay me now” or “pay me later.” Invest TODAY in exercising and staying in shape and you’ll have an EXCELLENT health insurance policy (and free too) in the FUTURE in terms of PREVENTION. :-)
    I grew up playing lots of pickup basketball, and biking or walking everywhere. I’ll be doing this even when I’m in my 80s & 90s.

  6. Jan [email protected] medical lift chairs

    November 9, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    Exercise is beneficial for any age group, but what I found is that the older you get, the more likely for injuries, so I think you should take it slow at first and do low impact exercises. My 73 year old father has high blood pressure and he cannot move around as fast as he could before. I bought him one of those exercise contraptions that you can actually use while sitting down and since he has been using it, his blood pressure is stable. Exercise is one of the best things to combat health issues. I cannot endorse that enough.

    • Jarret Morrow

      December 5, 2010 at 3:11 pm

      Jan, that’s also a very good point. For those who’re elderly and considering exercise, caution and good judgement should both be implemented in making decisions due to the potential for falls / injuries.

  7. Jane Lewis

    August 29, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    Nice read. Hypertension is not called ‘the silent killer’ for nothing… so many young people have died with heart failure because of an unnoticed hypertension..

    • Jarret Morrow

      December 5, 2010 at 3:09 pm

      Jane, that’s a great point. Hypertension is generally asymptomatic in early stages, so it’s important for people to visit their doctor regularly and have their blood pressure checked.

  8. healthy_blogging

    August 23, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    Exercise is beneficial in many ways. Last year German researchers found that middle-aged persons who participated in long distance running appeared to be physically younger than sedentary counterparts of the same age. The reason for this was that telomeres – caps on the ends of DNA – which shorten with successive cell divisions and is an indicator of aging, were significantly less short in persons middle aged runners.

    Exercise also improves confidence mental awareness and provides the participant with something to do. Because many of the elderly are less active, physical exercise could boost their morale and provide them with a sense of purpose and well-being.

    The bottom line is that it is never late to exercise, the key is to find something that one enjoys and to stick with it.


    • Jarret Morrow

      December 5, 2010 at 3:07 pm

      Thanks for sharing that info! I’ve never previously read about the effects of exercise on telomeres though I know what you’re referring to. I’ll have to look into that topic more.

  9. Kathy

    August 11, 2010 at 9:23 am

    I have always believed in the benefits of exercise regardless of age. I think you just have to pay attention to how much you physically stress your body as you get older. I have seen my own father benefit greatly from something as simple as riding an exercise bicycle for ten minutes at a time twice per day. It really helped his energy levels, his weight control and how limber his knees are.

    • Jarret Morrow

      August 19, 2010 at 1:12 pm

      Hey Kathy, I liked that the study suggested that it’s never too late to experience health benefits from exercising. Glad to hear that the exercise bicycle worked well for your father.

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