home   There are many reasons that older persons have low levels of physical activity, and as a result there is no single solution to the problem. The population of older men and women encompasses the whole range of health status—everyone from people who run marathons to frail adults confined to a wheelchair. There are no "one size fits all" approaches.

A variety of barriers may make it harder for older persons to increase and maintain their physical activity. Some neighborhoods and communities are poorly designed or unsafe, a particular obstacle for elderly persons who may feel especially vulnerable to crime or traffic. Many have chronic medical conditions that require more care and planning in how they exercise. Older adults may have trouble getting to facilities and programs, and those facilities may not provide adequate training and monitoring for older adults beginning a program.

Finally, health care professionals may lack the time or expertise to address problems of physical inactivity among their older patients. They often lack information about quality programs, about materials, and about how to make referrals to community resources. Finally, many older adults serve as caregivers for others, which can restrict their opportunities for regular physical activity. Often these caregiving responsibilities lead to poor health and depression for the caregiver.

Exercise can improve the physical and mental health of people who care full time for a family member. The Administration on Aging's National Family Caregiver Support Program provides support for family caregivers, and through its counseling and support services encourages proper eating and healthy lifestyles. The role of promoting physical activity involves diverse groups, including businesses, public health agencies, health care providers and organizations, transportation, housing, parks and recreation, and aging services organizations.

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Originally published by the NIDDK










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