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Exercise for Older Adults With Chronic Conditions

Extensive research has shown the positive effects exercise can have older adults. The improvements include an increase in muscular strength, muscular endurance, lean body mass, joint flexibility, and bone mineral content. Listen below are the benefits of exercise for those with chronic conditions such as Hypertension, Cardiovascular Disease, Osteoporosis, Arthritis, and Diabetes.


Also known as high blood pressure, is prevalent in most western industrialized countries especially in older adults. Inactive lifestyles being in direct correlation with gradual rises in blood pressure. Endurance and aerobic exercise can both significantly lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Studies have shown that low to moderate levels appear to lower blood pressure as much as, and in some cases more than higher intensity bouts.

Focus on

  • Low to moderate exercise will reduce blood pressure while keeping you at a much lower risk for cardiac difficulties.

  • 30 to 60 minutes of low to moderate intensity aerobic exercise 3-7 days a week.


  • Isometric exercises have proven to increase systolic and diastolic blood pressure. (wall sits, planks...)

  • Inactive lifestyles.

Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Disease

Cardiovascular disease is a broad term that can refer to a wide range of disorders of the cardiovascular system. Pulmonary disease includes diseases of the respiratory system like emphysema, bronchitis, and asthma. All cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases have some implication for exercise programs, especially those including aerobic conditioning.

Exercise helps prevent heart disease and is also important during recovery from functional losses resulting from heart disease. All heart attack survivors begin their recovery in cardiac rehabilitation programs connected to hospitals.

Focus On

  • A program focusing on low to moderate intensity exercise may be appropriate for you in the final stages of recovery from cardiac disease. However you should only participate in aerobic exercise under the guidance of a physician who can determine the appropriate level of exercise while monitoring progress.

  • Exercise may not create a significant increase in pulmonary function, but it can help decrease respiratory symptoms and decrease anxiety and depression.

  • Those with pulmonary dysfunction may also need to modify duration and frequency of exercise. If you cannot sustain 20-30 minutes of continuous exercise, two 10 or 15 minute sessions or even 4 5-minute sessions can be appropriate. Even with modifications, exercise is still beneficial and should be pursued by those with cardiovascular and pulmonary disorders.


  • Beginning an exercise regime without consulting your doctor.


Arthritis is joint inflammation and refers to a host of rheumatic diseases. Appropriate exercise can have a significant impact on controlling the symptoms of arthritis. Regular exercise can help maintain a level of function in the joints that will allow those with arthritis to remain independent.

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  • Isotonic resistive exercise and isometric exercise can safely and effectively improve strength.

  • Non weight bearing and low impact programs such as water exercise, swimming, chair exercise, Pilates and yoga have proven to be beneficial.

  • If you have exercise induced pain in the joint that lasts 2 or more hours after exercise, you have done too much. It is important to learn your limitations. Pain in the joint can be a sign of further damage to the joint.


  • Ballistic exercise can aggravate inflammation and harm the joints.


Osteoporosis is the loss of bone mineral density and in some cases to such a degree that fractures can occur. Among adults older than 50, an average of 24% of people who sustain a hip fracture die within 1 year. Studies have shown that lack of physical activity promotes bone loss. In order to fight the affects of osteoporosis, exercise must be weight bearing.

Focus on

  • Resistance training has shown to be especially beneficial to help improve bone mineral density, muscle mass, strength, and balance.


  • Those with osteoporosis should avoid ballistic or jarring movements.

  • If in the later stages you should avoid standing on one leg to limit stress on vulnerable bones.


Diabetes is a condition associated with the body’s inability to metabolize glucose. There are two main types. Those with Type 1 are completely unable to produce insulin or they produce such a small amount that insulin injections are necessary. Those with Type 2 have a pancreas that secrets insulin but the body does not respond effectively to insulin action, so high levels of glucose remain in the bloodstream. Those with diabetes should be evaluated my medical professional before beginning any program.

Focus on

  • Aerobic training and strength training have been proven to decrease the amount of insulin required by injection and increases the efficiency of the body’s response to insulin.

  • Safety should be a top priority while knowing and paying attention to the symptoms of glycemia.

  • You should always have a snack available in case of a hypoglycemia event.

  • Hypoglycemia can occur as much as 15 hours after exercise has stopped.


  • Exercising when blood glucose is higher than 250 milligrams per deciliter (type 1) and kenotes are present in their urging or blood glucose is higher than 300 milligrams per deciliter (type2)

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