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Clin Geriatr Med. 1996 Nov;12(4):761-84.

Exercise to improve physiologic and functional performance in old age.

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Department of Epidemiology, Merck Research Laboratories, Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, USA.


The purpose of this article is to evaluate the impact of exercise in elderly men and women. The type and intensity of exercise, the health status of the participants, and the outcomes measured vary widely across studies. In general, studies of exercise interventions in older adults show positive physiologic effects in persons of all ages. Musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems, regardless of age, can respond to both resistance and aerobic training as measured by impairments such as strength and maximum oxygen uptake. The magnitude of physiologic effect may be dampened in frailer individuals in response to lower intensity exercise stimuli. In the most impaired elders, exercise may help to forestall further decline in physiologic reserve rather than produce significant gains. The extent to which exercise programs impact performance and disability is less clear. Exercise programs in frailer individuals appear to have greater effect on gait speed and chair rise time than similar programs in healthier individuals. The impact of exercise on measures of disability has not been widely reported. Studies reviewed in this article suggest that exercise training in elders is a potential means of reducing the burden of impairments and ultimately improving function.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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