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reviewed 7/29/2018

Aging and exercise: Myth or fact?

You already know that staying fit is important for young people—but what about for a more mature crowd? Exercise your knowledge of keeping fit as a senior with this quiz.

Myth or fact: A person can be too old to exercise. After a certain age, I'll need to take it easy.

Myth. You are never too old to exercise. And studies show that too much downtime can have health risks. When older people lose their ability to do things on their own, it's often because they're not active—not just because of age.

Myth or fact: Exercise can be used as a treatment for chronic conditions.

Fact. If you have arthritis, diabetes or heart disease, regular exercise can improve your quality of life. People with high blood pressure, balance problems or difficulty walking may benefit as well. But talk to a doctor about what kinds of exercise are safe for you.

Myth or fact: I use a wheelchair, so I can't exercise.

Myth. People of any ability can—and should—be active. If you're in a wheelchair, exercise can help you maintain your independence. Some options are rowing and using free weights. Talk to a doctor if you have questions or concerns.

Myth or fact: Cardio is the only beneficial form of exercise.

Myth. A balanced exercise routine is important. Older adults need to do both aerobic exercise (like riding a bike or jogging) and muscle-strengthening activities (like yoga or lifting weights) each week. And doing balance training (like backward walking) can help older adults avoid falls.

Myth or fact: Exercise is good for the brain.

Fact. Studies suggest that the cardiovascular benefits of regular exercise can promote brain health. In people with Alzheimer's disease, exercise may even slow down a decline in thinking skills.

Myth or fact: I'm very overweight, so there are no exercises I can do.

Myth. Any physical activity you can do is better than nothing. Pick activities you enjoy so that you stick with them—maybe walking, water exercises, dancing or weightlifting. It's a healthy start even if it's only for a few minutes at a time. Be sure to talk to a doctor if you have concerns.

Exercise is essential for aging well. Talk to a doctor about an exercise plan that is right for you.

Get tips on exercising as you age

Sources: Alzheimer's Association; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability; National Institutes of Health

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