Exercise and the elderly: A scientific rationale for exercise prescription

Heather Mernitz, Ann Yelmokas McDermott

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


• Objective: To review the benefits of exercise intervention in older persons and the role of exercise in the prevention and treatment of chronic disease. • Methods: Qualitative assessment of the literature focusing on randomized controlled trials. • Results: Participation in regular physical activity, including aerobic exercise and strength training, can improve health, functional ability, and quality of life in older persons. Higher levels of aerobic activity are associated with increased physical fitness, decreased total mortality, and improvements in cardiovascular risk profile. Resistance training combats myopathy and osteopenia and increases muscle endurance and function. Additional benefits from exercise include improved bone health and improved postural stability. Starting an exercise program in later life can significantly modify risk factors for morbidity and mortality even if a person has been sedentary in prior years. • Conclusion: Physical activity should be encouraged in healthy seniors and should be considered a primary or adjunctive therapy in the treatment of chronic diseases associated with aging. Physicians can play a major role in communicating the benefits of exercise and encouraging physical activity in their patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)106-116
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Clinical Outcomes Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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