People naturally lose some strength with age. However, older adults can stay strong and healthy by being physically active.
The most common reason why older adults lose strength is because they don't stay active. The saying "use it or lose it" is true. The less that older adults exercise, walk and do physical tasks for themselves, the weaker their muscles and bones become.
There are many exercise options for older adults. Health professionals, including physical therapists, can make suggestions based on an older adult's overall health, conditions and medications.
Regular physical activity can help adults of any age:
Build strength and stamina
Improve balance and flexibility
Prevent or help manage health conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease
Reduce stress and improve mood
Physical activity isn't just running or lifting weights. Gardening, walking the dog, doing errands on foot, yardwork and household chores all benefit older adults, as do gentle exercises, like stretches and chair yoga.
At least 30 minutes of physical activity on most or all days of the week is recommended.
Older adults who have been less active can ask health professionals how to start slow and build up over time.
Doing different types of physical activity provides the most benefit, including:
Endurance exercises, like walking briskly and doing yardwork
Strength exercises, like lifting weights or using resistance bands
Flexibility exercises, like stretching and doing yoga