Harvard Women's Health Watch

Exercise after age 70

There are no official fitness guidelines for older women, but the basics are the same at every age.

The average 65-year-old can expect to reach her 85th birthday, and the average 75-year-old will live to age 87. How we'll celebrate those birthdays — as the life of the party or immobilized on the sidelines — has a lot to do with how we spend our time today. Although none of us can be certain that we'll be spared debilitating disorders that could rob us of our mobility, there's no doubt that regular exercise will help improve our ability to function at almost any age or level of fitness.

Why exercise is essential

During the 1970s, several studies of healthy older people indicated that strength, stamina, and flexibility drop significantly after age 55. For example, the Framingham Disability Study found that 62% of women ages 75 to 85 had difficulty kneeling or stooping; 66% couldn't lift more than 10 pounds; and 42% were unable to stand for more than 15 minutes.

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