How beneficial is physical exercise in older people

It is common to think that physical exercise it is beneficial for all people, but, to be favorable, you have to carry out a routine correct that it is scheduled and controlled by a professional.

Beliefs state that sport brings many benefits to anyone and at any age. But is it really beneficial for older people?

Well, according to an international consensus statement led by Mikel Izquierdo, group head of the CIBER for Frailty and Healthy Aging (CIBERFES) at the Public University of Navarra (UPNA), the exercise “it is the best medicine for the elderly and it is a priority to integrate it into care programs for patients with frailty and in the practice of Geriatric Medicine ”.

Thus, exercise is really beneficial for the elderly, or at least this is confirmed by this agreement in which the main scientific institutions of physical exercise and healthy aging from around the world participate.

Thus, the document has been based on the scientific evidence to provide a rationale for the use of exercise and physical activity for health promotion and disease prevention and treatment in older adults.

Despite this, the exercise prescription must be analyzed in terms of modalities and “dosage” specific that have been studied in randomized controlled trials to evaluate their efficacy in attenuating the physiological changes of aging, disease prevention and amelioration of chronic conditions.

Well, according to Mikel Izquierdo, a researcher at CIBERFES, the purpose is to propose β€œrecommendations to bridge the gaps in the current scientific literature and optimize the use of exercise and physical activity both as preventive medicine and as a therapeutic agent ”in the elderly.

Lack of physical exercise increases the risk of disease

On the other hand, the same statement insists that insufficient practice of physical activity, exercise and excessive sedentary behaviors are powerful risk factors mortality from all causes.

In this case, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, sarcopenia, frailty and lack of autonomy are the most common chronic ailments associated with aging.

In this way, physical activity influences the key factors of aging also in the elderly, as this international consensus statement affirms that exercise and physical activity in older people improve physical function and quality of life reduce the burden of chronic diseases, premature overall mortality, and mortality from cardiovascular disease, cancer, and chronic respiratory diseases.

In addition, it is imperative to recognize that the beneficial effects of exercise are global and they act both at the level of physiological multisystem and functional capacity.

It is necessary to adapt the exercise to each person and situation

However, not everyone, due to their physical condition and health, is capable of practicing the same physical activity. Therefore, these scientists consider that a proper exercise prescription in all health care recommendations in an effort to improve functional independence, psychological well-being, and quality of life for all older adults, fit or frail, of any age.

Therefore, something that the experts want to influence with this work is that, even taking into account the evidence accumulated over decades of the benefits of exercise in frail people, it is not justified not to prescribe it.

Thus, one of the main objectives of the future is to integrate exercise programs as a mandatory part of the care activity for pre-frail and frail elderly patients in all hospital, outpatient and care settings.

Well, the truth is that, despite the multiple benefits of exercise, it is not fully integrated into the practice of geriatric medicine. That is why Izquierdo considers that “it is from Vital importance effectively address not only the behavioral causes of poor health and inequality, but also boost social and environmental support for exercise to improve older adults’ physical activity levels, with the implementation of strategies and modification of public and private spaces for reduce sedentary behavior“.


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