University of Massachusetts Amherst

It's MORE Than A Meal

Physical Activity

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why do older adults need physical activity?

Translations of Fact Sheet

Regular physical activity is important at any age. It can offer other health benefits. It can also improve our quality of life. Research shows that physical activity can be safe for most older adults.  

what are the benefits?

Regular physical activity can help:

  • Keep muscles strong.
  • Reduce bone loss.
  • Control weight, diabetes, and heart disease.
  • Reduce the risk of falls and injuries.
  • Improve energy and mental health.

types of exercise

  • Stretching helps keep the body flexible. It may help prevent falls.
  • Endurance exercise improves the heart rate. It helps bring more blood and oxygen to the brain. Examples are walking and  swimming.
  • Strength exercise helps build muscles and bones. Examples are using free weights, or raising the arms while holding unopened soup cans.
  • Balance exercise helps prevent falls, hip fractures, and other injuries. Examples are standing on one foot, or raising a leg to the side while holding onto a sturdy chair.

ask your health care provider

  • If you have a medical condition that might prevent you from being physically active.
  • How much exercise is best.
  • What types of activity you may want to limit or avoid.
  • Whether you need supervision.

for more information

Growing Stronger: Strength Training for Older Adults
Published in 2002 by Tufts University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Exercise: A Guide from the National Institute on Aging

Reprinted in 2004 by the National Institutes of Health.


  • Exercise: A Guide from the National Institute on Aging, reprinted in 2004.
  • Growing Stronger: Strength Training for Older Adults. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and Tufts University, 2002.
  • Position Stand:  Exercise and Physical Activity for Older Adults. American College of Sports Medicine, 1998.

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Developed for the Massachusetts Department of Education Child and Adult Care Food Program by the University of Massachusetts Extension Nutrition Education Program. Permission is hereby granted by the Massachusetts Department of Education to copy any or all parts of this document for non-commercial educational purposes. The Massachusetts Department of Education, an Affirmative Action employer, is committed to ensuring that all of its programs and facilities are accessible to all members of the public. We do not discriminate on the basis of age, color, disability, national origin, race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation.