National Academy of Medicine

Physical Activity in Older People

By Loretta DiPietro
April 06, 2015 | Commentary

Physiological function and resiliency decline with age, even among the most robust sectors of the older adult population. The degree to which this decline is attributable to true biological aging versus aging-related changes in lifestyle factors has been the focus of most research in this area. Nearly three decades ago, Walter Bortz first noted that many of the physiological changes ascribed to aging per se are similar to those induced by enforced inactivity, such as during prolonged bed rest, and he proposed that much of this functional dysregulation could be attenuated or even reversed with regular exercise. Unfortunately, the modern-day lifestyle is characterized by a majority of time spent sedentary throughout the day. Older people may be especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of prolonged sitting due to a loss of physiologic reserve and the fact that they may spend up to 60-70 percent of their waking hours sitting or reclining

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and not necessarily of the authors’ organizations, the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), or the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (the National Academies). The paper is intended to help inform and stimulate discussion. It is not a report of the NAM or the National Academies. Copyright by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.