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Book contents

7 - Using Exercise as Medicine for Older Adults

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 May 2010

Christine Arenson
Affiliation:
Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia
Jan Busby-Whitehead
Affiliation:
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Kenneth Brummel-Smith
Affiliation:
Florida State University
James G. O'Brien
Affiliation:
University of Louisville, Kentucky
Mary H. Palmer
Affiliation:
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
William Reichel
Affiliation:
Georgetown University, Washington DC
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Summary

AGING AND PHYSICAL ACTIVITY PATTERNS

Currently, disparities exist among population groups in habitual physical activity patterns that exaggerate the negative health consequences of a sedentary lifestyle. Unchanged from the 1996 Surgeon General's Report on Physical Activity and Health, demographic groups still at highest risk for inactivity are the elderly, women, minorities, those with low income or educational background, and those with disabilities or chronic health conditions. As might be expected, these are the same demographic groups that both bear a large burden of the diseases amenable to prevention and treatment with exercise, and, yet, often have the least access and opportunity for health promotion efforts related to physical activity. Therefore, all health care providers should identify and understand barriers to physical activity faced by these population groups and utilize programs and tools that address these barriers.

Previous objectives for middle-aged and older adults have primarily focused on physical activities designed to improve cardiorespiratory fitness and prolong life. It is now recognized, however, that older adults can benefit from physical activities designed to maintain or improve functional independence as well. The specific physical fitness components that provide continued physical function as individuals age include muscle strength, cardiovascular and muscular endurance, balance, and flexibility. The problems of mobility impairment, falls, arthritis, osteoporotic fractures, and functional status are clearly related in part to muscle strength and mass, characteristics that are amenable to intervention even in frail elders, and thus strengthening activities, although important for all age groups, are particularly important for older adults.

Type
Chapter
Information
Reichel's Care of the Elderly
Clinical Aspects of Aging
, pp. 67 - 78
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2009

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