Even for people who've gone many years without exercising, there are compelling reasons to get active, no matter what their age, reports the April 2014 Harvard Heart Letter.
"The fitter and more active you become, the longer you'll live and less heart disease you'll have," says Dr. Aaron Baggish, a cardiologist and fitness expert at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.
He suggests that people first start exercising by moving whenever possible, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Next, he asks his patients to identify times during the day they can exercise and what resources they have at their disposal. For example, does their workplace or senior center have a fitness facility, or do they have access to a safe place to walk, no matter the weather?
People in the 60- to 80-year-old age group should spend 80% of their workout doing moderate aerobic activity. That can be anything from brisk walking, cycling, or dancing, to a Zumba class. For the remaining 20% of the time, it's a good idea to focus on strength training. This can be done at a gym but can also be done at home — no weights needed. Try squats, push-ups, and arm reaches. Work toward a goal of exercising for one hour, five times a week.
For those with no particular health concerns, a program of moderate walking and strength training is a safe way to go. Those who have heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, or other muscle or bone problems should talk to a doctor before starting. Take it easy at first, and ramp up to a more intense level gradually. "Most of all, remember that something is better than nothing and there is no age when it's too late to start," says Dr. Baggish.
Read the full-length article: "The best heart-healthy workouts for your 60s, 70s, and 80s"
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.