Health Benefits of Exercise for Older Adults

Posted by Carter Cordes on August 31, 2023

Staying active and engaging in regular exercise are some of the most important things you can do for your health. With exercise, you can experience a myriad of health benefits. This is true for all ages, but becomes even more important to do in order to maintain good health as we age.

According to the CDC, regular exercise can “improve your brain health, help manage your weight, reduce the risk of disease, strengthen bones and muscles, and improve your ability to do everyday activities.”

Cognitive Benefits

The cognitive benefits of exercise include reduced anxiety, a boost in mood, and reduced risk of depression. Your thinking, learning, and judgment skills will also stay sharper as you age if you engage in regular activity.

Weight Management

Weight management is very simple when you break it down. In order to maintain your body weight you must expend the same amount of calories as you consume. In order to lose weight you must burn more calories than you consume either by eating less or exercising more. The opposite is true for weight gain.

Choosing healthy foods and getting the proper amount of daily exercise is critical for weight management. The more you stay active the easier it will be to maintain a healthy weight.

Health Risk

Exercise reduces the risk for many different health complications. Cardiovascular disease and stroke are the two leading causes of death in the United States. Regular exercise reduces these through lowering your blood pressure and improving your cholesterol levels.

Exercise also reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and certain cancers such as bladder, breast, colon, kidney, lung, and stomach cancer. Lastly, exercise may help reduce the risk of serious outcomes from infectious diseases such as the flu or pneumonia.

Strengthening Muscles and Bones

“Use it or lose it” is a simple phrase for staying strong as you get older. Keeping your bones, joints, and muscles healthy is important as you age because it ensures you will be able to continue to do your daily activities. Muscle strengthening and weight bearing activities help to maintain muscle strength and keep your bone density high which is very important for the older population.

Improve Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s)

ADL’s for older adults may include grocery shopping, cleaning, climbing stairs, or playing with grandchildren. Being unable to do daily activities is called a functional limitation. Physically active older adults have a lower risk of functional limitations.

Basic Exercise Guidelines

The CDC recommends to exercise for a minimum of 150 minutes per week at a moderate intensity. A quick gauge for determining moderate intensity would be that your breathing quickens, you may develop a light sweat, and carrying a conversation may become more difficult.

This can also be measured more accurately by looking at your heart rate. Your heart rate for moderate intensity exercise should be at 50-70% of your maximum heart rate which can be calculated by taking 220-age.For your weekly exercise you should include at least 2 days of strength training sessions that engage all major muscle groups. For this, I recommend performing at least 1 set for each major muscle group and 10-15 reps for each set.

These are just starting points and can be adjusted as you become more conditioned and as your training goals change. Along with strength training you should include aerobic activity, mobility training, and balance training. A combination of these will greatly reduce the risk of falls or injuries from a fall.

In Conclusion

Regular exercise for the older population can help improve cognition, manage weight, lower health risks, strengthen muscles and bones, and improve activities of daily living. Investing in your health can pay huge dividends. Staying physically active helps you to live a healthier, happier, and longer life!


“Benefits of Physical Activity.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 28 June 2023,,ability%20to%20do%20everyday%20activities

Carter Cordes

Carter Cordes

RAC Personal Trainer Carter Cordes is originally from Mazeppa, MN and moved to Rochester in 2021 when he started training at the RAC. Along with his BA in Exercise Science, Carter minored in Nutrition and holds two certifications: NASM CPT and NASM CES. Away from work Carter enjoys staying active, cooking new foods, hunting, fishing, and riding/working on motorcycles.

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