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Postgrad Med J 90:26-32 doi:10.1136/postgradmedj-2012-131366
  • Review

Physical activity is medicine for older adults

Open AccessEditor's Choice
  1. Denise Taylor
  1. Faculty of Health & Environmental Sciences, Health & Rehabilitation Research Institute, North Shore Campus, AUT University, Auckland, New Zealand
  1. Correspondence to Dr Denise Taylor, Faculty of Health & Environmental Sciences, Health & Rehabilitation Research Institute, North Shore Campus, AUT University, Northcote, Auckland 0627, New Zealand; Denise.taylor{at}aut.ac.nz
  • Received 19 January 2013
  • Revised 4 June 2013
  • Accepted 1 July 2013
  • Published Online First 19 November 2013

Abstract

There is evidence from high quality studies to strongly support the positive association between increased levels of physical activity, exercise participation and improved health in older adults. Worldwide, around 3.2 million deaths per year are being attributed to inactivity. In industrialised countries where people are living longer lives, the levels of chronic health conditions are increasing and the levels of physical activity are declining. Key factors in improving health are exercising at a moderate-to-vigorous level for at least 5 days per week and including both aerobic and strengthening exercises. Few older adults achieve the level of physical activity or exercise that accompanies health improvements. A challenge for health professionals is to increase physical activity and exercise participation in older adults. Some success in this has been reported when physicians have given specific, detailed and localised information to their patients, but more high quality research is needed to continue to address this issue of non-participation in physical activity and exercise of a high enough level to ensure health benefits.

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