For older people with heart-related issues, strength and balance exercises may help prevent falls and preserve independence.
Exercise can boost both the duration and quality of your life, especially if you start when you’re young and keep at it. But as people age, heart disease or other health problems sometimes derail exercise routines. The resulting loss of muscle and endurance often contributes to frailty, which affects about a quarter of people after age 85 but can also occur at younger ages (see "What is frailty?").
Because frailty often develops gradually, it can be overlooked. "It’s usually a family member who notices that the person is looking a little less steady or walking more slowly than usual," says Darlene Harrier, a physical therapist at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
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About the Author
Julie Corliss, Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter
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