Am I too old to get started?

NO!!! Go for It!

A senior man jumps in the air.

No matter what your age, exercise is good for you. It’s never too late to start, and you can benefit from strength and resistance training, stretching and flexibility exercise, and endurance and aerobic exercises. Find exercise that you enjoy that fits into your schedule and get started!

Can Exercise Improve Mood?

Senior couple enjoys a bike ride.

Exercise has been shown to improve mood. Depression is common in older adults, and exercise can have an antidepressant effect. It is thought that exercise may increase serotonin in the brain, which leads to better moods and less depression.

What Happens to Our Joints As We Age?

An illustration showing the differences between a normal, healthy joint, a joint affected by osteoarthritis, and one affected by rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis becomes more common as we age – about 27 million people in the U.S. have osteoarthritis, a condition in which the cartilage between the joints breaks down, causing stiffness, pain, and loss of movement in the joints. One of the best ways to manage osteoarthritis is to stay active and maintain a healthy weight. Lack of movement contributes to stiffness and weak joints. Exercises include those for range of motion and flexibility, endurance, and strength.

What Happens to Bones As We Age?

Illustration shows normal bone density and weakened bone affected by osteoporosis.

As we age, bone density decreases as well and can lead to osteoporosis, a condition in which the bones become fragile and weak, and are more prone to fractures. More than 40 million Americans have or are at risk for osteoporosis, and it is more common in women than in men. Exercise can increase bone strength and density. Weight-bearing activity in particular is useful as this causes the bones to work harder. Strength training as well strengthens muscles and helps strengthen bones.

What Happens to Balance As We Age?

A woman balances and practices Tai Chi.

As we age, balance decreases and falls can lead to fractures. The National Institutes of Health estimates more than one-third of people over the age of 65 fall each year, often resulting in injuries such as hip fractures which are a major cause of surgeries and disability among the elderly. Balance and strength exercises can help maintain balance and reduce the risk of falling.

What Happens to Flexibility As We Age?

A senior woman does stretching exercises on the floor.

Along with muscle mass and endurance, flexibility also decreases as we age. But like strength and endurance, flexibility too can be improved. Increased flexibility allows for more freedom of movement and greater range of motion. Areas to pay attention to are the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, and ankles.

What Happens to Endurance As We Age?

A senior couple on a walk through the countryside.

Just as muscle mass declines with age, so does endurance. The good news is that the body also responds to endurance fitness training such as walking. Any activity that increases heart rate and breathing for an extended period is considered endurance exercise. In addition to walking, swimming, cycling, dancing, and tennis are all endurance activities.

What Happens to Muscles As We Age?

A senior man works out with weights in the gym.

As we age, muscle mass decreases. Between the third and eighth decades of life, we lose up to 15% of our lean muscle mass, which contributes to a lower metabolic rate, as we get older. Maintaining muscle strength and mass helps burn calories to maintain a healthy weight, strengthens bones, and restores balance.