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Clin Geriatr Med. 2004 May;20(2):201-21.

Exercise and aging.

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  • 1University of Sydney, Lidcombe, NSW, Australia.


There is increasing evidence that the black box we have referred to as"biologic aging" is composed of genetic factors and many types of environmental exposures. Some of the most potentially modifiable elements of this syndrome are those attributable to disuse or insufficient exposure to certain kinds or intensities of physical stressors during the course of the life span. Beneficial adaptations to exercise once thought restricted to genetically endowed master athletes now are seen to occur just as predictably in frail elders with chronic disease, opening the door to vastly improved physical function and associated health benefits. Knowledge of the benefits of physical activity, however well substantiated, may be necessary, but it is not sufficient to change either physician-prescribing habits or the likelihood of adoption and long-term adherence to exercise on the part of patients. Ultimately, the penetration of an exercise prescription to optimize aging into the most inactive cohorts in the community,who have the most to gain from increases in levels of physical activity and fitness, will depend on a combination of clear evidence-based guidelines coupled with health professional training and behavioral programs tailored to age-specific barriers and motivational factors.

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