Although no amount of physical activity can stop the aging process, a moderate amount of regular exercise can minimize the physiological effects of an otherwise sedentary lifestyle and increase active life expectancy by limiting the development and progression of chronic disease and disabling conditions. Ideally, exercise prescription for older adults should include aerobic, muscle strengthening, and flexibility exercises. In addition, individuals at risk for falling or mobility impairment should also perform specific exercises to improve balance. The intensity and duration of physical activity should be low at the outset for those who are highly deconditioned, are functionally limited, or have chronic conditions affecting their ability to perform physical tasks. Furthermore, the progression of activities should be individualized and tailored to tolerance and preference. Incorporating principles of behavioral change into the design and application of exercise and physical activity programs will increase the likelihood of an individual initiating and maintaining a regular program of exercise and/ or physical activity. Strategies for maintaining physical function and improving overall health of older adults with chronic conditions and disability are discussed. All older adults with and without disabilities should be encouraged to develop a personalized physical activity plan that meets their needs and personal preferences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20-28
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Lifestyle Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009


  • aging
  • exercise
  • physical activity
  • successful aging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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