home   Vigorous physical activity—activity that causes heavy sweating or large increases in heart rate—is better than moderate activity for maintaining cardiorespiratory fitness, but relatively few older persons engage in regular vigorous activity (i.e., three times per week or more), and the numbers decline steadily with age. Estimates for 2000 indicate that, only 13 percent of individuals between ages 65 and 74 reported engaging in vigorous physical activity for 20 minutes 3 or more days per week, and only 6 percent of those 75 and older reported such exercise.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Healthy People 2010, 2nd ed. With Understanding and Improving Health and Objectives for Improving Health. 2 vols. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, November 2000. Note: Data are based on 1997 data adjusted to the age of the U.S. population in 2000.

Research studies have suggested that muscle-strengthening exercises may protect against the decline in bone mass experienced by post-menopausal women and protect against falls. However, in 1998 only 10 percent of Americans between ages 65 and 74 report engaging in activities 2 or more days per week that enhance and maintain strength and endurance.

Incorporating activity into normal daily routines (for example, walking or bicycling rather than driving) is one of the most effective strategies for becoming more active. However, in 1995, only 16 percent to 19 percent of adults over age 65 reported making trips of 1 mile or less by walking. In addition, less than 0.3 percent of those over age 65 reported using a bicycle to make trips of 5 miles or less.

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Originally published by the NIDDK










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