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5 top benefits of exercise as you age

“I have a very physical job, so I don’t need to exercise.”

“I’m too old to go to the gym.”

“Everything aches, but I’m just getting old!”

Any of this sound familiar? We often hear from older patients that exercise is either no longer a priority or no longer possible. But studies have shown that keeping up a regular exercise routine as you age can have significant benefits for both physical and mental health.

Here are 5 top reasons why it is important to continue to exercise as you age.

1. Muscle health

As we age, muscle mass naturally decreases. By incorporating aerobic (Laurin et al., 2019) and strength training you can minimise muscle loss and maybe even increase muscle mass. This improves your overall strength, which has a myriad of benefits for your physical health.

For example, studies show that even an intermediate level of leisure-time physical activity can protect against lower back pain, which is one of the leading causes of disability among older adults (Wong et al., 2022).

2. Joint Health

There are small muscles in your joints that keep them stable as you move. As you use these muscles and develop strength in them, you’ll be able to safely use them for years to come and prevent pain associated with aging, such as aching, arthritic knees and frozen shoulder (St John, 2022).

Regular sport and exercise that moves joints through their full range of motion and equipment such as therabands or hand weights help with balance, stability and preventing injury – which is very important as you get older.

3. Bone density

Falls are more dangerous as we age, but the reality is that they sometimes happen. We can lower the risk of serious injury through regular exercise.

Research has revealed that athletes tend to have greater bone density than those with a more sedentary lifestyle. Other factors like strength, muscle mass and good oxygen uptake, which are associated with regular exercise, also correlate with greater bone density (Chilibeck et al., 1995).

So, not only does regular exercise help your balance to prevent falls, it also significantly improves bone density, which reduces the risk of serious fractures and long recovery periods.

In particular, strength training and high impact endurance training can improve bone density (Chilibeck et al., 1995). Some good exercise options for improving bone density include tennis, climbing stairs, jogging, volleyball, basketball and weightlifting.

4. Cardiovascular health

Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death and disability that can cause major health issues, including coronary artery disease and stroke (Cheng et al., 2013). Because of this, maintaining cardiovascular health is incredibly important at all times, but especially as we get older.

Physical activity has been proven to reduce risk factors of cardiovascular disease (Batty, 2002), but, vitally, is also effective in preventing it (Cheng et al., 2013).

5. Cognition and positive mental health

It’s not just about physical health – exercise has been shown to have significant benefits for your mental health, cognition and quality of life as well (Langlois et al., 2013).

The good news is, studies show that even taking part in physical activity as part of your leisure time can improve mood and lessen anxiety and depression (Wong et al., 2022). So, you don’t have to take up an intense workout regime – low-frequency, long-term, regular aerobic exercise is most effective for older adults (Lei et al., 2021).

Exercise is vital to your continuing health as you age. If you’re not sure where to start, or if you’re dealing with pain or injury that’s preventing you from adding physical activity to your lifestyle, come in to see our friendly team of healthcare practitioners. We can support you with chiropractic care, massage and acupuncture to help get you fighting fit.


G Batty, Physical activity and coronary heart disease in older adults: A systematic review of epidemiological studies, European Journal of Public Health, 2002

C Wong, R Mak, T Kwok, J Tsang, M Leung, M Funabashi, L Macedo, L Dennett, A Wong., Prevalence, Incidence, and Factors Associated With Non-Specific Chronic Low Back Pain in Community-Dwelling Older Adults Aged 60 Years and Older: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis, The Journal of Pain, 2022

J Laurin, J Reid, M Lawrence, B Miller, Long-term aerobic exercise preserves muscle mass and function with age, Current Opinion in Physiology, 2019

P Chilibeck, D Sale, C Webber., Exercise and Bone Mineral Density, Sports Med, 1995

F Langlois et al., Benefits of Physical Exercise Training on Cognition and Quality of Life in Frail Older Adults, The Journals of Gerontology: Series B, 2013

Y Lei, F Hanliu, L Wanchun, L Junfeng, C Jindong., Effect of Aerobic Exercise on Mental Health in Older Adults: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials, Frontiers in Psychiatry, 2021

SJ Cheng, HK Yu, YC Chen, CY Chen, WC Lien, PY Yang, GC Hu, Physical Activity and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease Among Older Adults, International Journal of Gerontology, 2013

N St John., Training Muscles for Joint Stability, Idea Health and Fitness, 2022


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