Physical activity for older adults
You're never too old
An active lifestyle is a key component of healthy aging. No one is too old to enjoy the benefits of regular physical activity. Physical activity can:
- prevent the onset of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease
- keep bones strong
- keep flexibility and balance to help prevent falls
- maintain energy
- sustain the ability to live independently
Research shows that almost all older adults can benefit from regular physical activity. Even the mobility and functioning of frail and very old adults can be improved. For older adults with chronic diseases, physical activity can play an important role in effectively treating heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, chronic lung disease, diabetes, obesity, and arthritis.
Woodland Park Walkers perform stretching
exercises before walking
Many older adults are inactive
Despite evidence of the benefits of physical activity, few older adults achieve the minimum recommended 30 or more minutes of moderate physical activity on five or more days per week. Opportunities for physical activity that combine time for socializing with friends or spending time with family are the most popular for older adults.
Barriers to being active for older adults
Washington's population is aging more rapidly than most other states, with the number of people aged 65 and older expected to double by 2020. Older African Americans (42%), Latinos (39%) and Asian-Americans (45%) are much less likely to drive than older Caucasians (16%). Safe places to walk and bicycle are important for everyone but are especially important to older adults, children and people with disabilities who cannot or choose not to drive.
Elder women doing simple aerobic exercises
Limited access to transit, inadequate sidewalks, unsafe or missing crosswalks and lack of destinations close to home all contribute to the isolation and sedentary lifestyle of many older adults. These transportation barriers can make it more difficult for older adults to access parks, walking trails and other physical activity programs in King County. Metro Transit offers transportation services for people with special needs and disabilities.