We're unable to sign you in at this time. Please try again in a few minutes.
We were able to sign you in, but your subscription(s) could not be found. Please try again in a few minutes.
There may be a problem with your account. Please contact the AMA Service Center to resolve this issue.
Contact the AMA Service Center:
Telephone: 1 (800) 262-2350 or 1 (312) 670-7827  *   Email: subscriptions@jamanetwork.com
Error Message ......
JAMA Patient Page |

Fitness for Older Adults FREE

Erin Brender, MD, Writer; Alison E. Burke, MA, Illustrator; Richard M. Glass, MD, Editor
JAMA. 2008;300(9):1104. doi:10.1001/jama.300.9.
Text Size: A A A
Published online

Keeping active and remaining fit can help prolong your life and can even help prevent or delay illnesses or disabilities as you grow older. The benefits of physical activity extend throughout life and can improve many health conditions. Being active helps lower your risk of falls and developing heart disease and diabetes and can help you live on your own longer. Fitness and physical activity are safe for most older adults—even for those with stable chronic conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis. Your doctor can advise you about the safety of certain activities and increasing your fitness level. The September 3, 2008, issue of JAMA includes an article reporting that regular physical activity can improve mental function in older adults with memory complaints. This Patient Page is based on one published in the July 12, 2006, issue of JAMA.


  • Choose activities you enjoy.

  • Make being fit part of your everyday life. Playing with children, gardening, walking, dancing, and housecleaning are just a few activities that can improve your fitness.

  • Combine a range of activities that include aerobic activity (see below), strengthening, flexibility, and balance.

  • Start slowly and gradually build up to a total of at least 30 minutes of activity a day on most days of the week. Activities can be broken up throughout the day.

  • Keep safety in mind. Always wear comfortable, well-fitting shoes and use appropriate safety gear. Avoid outdoor activities in extreme cold or heat. Drink plenty of fluids while engaging in physical activity.


  • Aerobic activities (exercises that increase oxygen use to improve heart and lung function) such as walking, gardening, and swimming can help strengthen your heart and lower your blood pressure and cholesterol. They can also improve your mood and sleep.

  • Strengthening activities, such as repetitive lifting of light weights or even household items such as canned foods, can improve your muscle and bone health. Strengthening leg and hip muscles with leg weight exercises can help reduce your risk of falls.

  • Flexibility and balancing exercises, such as tai chi, stretching, and yoga, can help prevent injuries and stiff joints.


Stop the activity and contact your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Pain or pressure in your chest, arms, neck, or jaw

  • Feeling lightheaded, nauseated, or weak

  • Becoming short of breath

  • Developing pain in your legs, calves, or back

  • Having an uncomfortable sensation of your heart beating too fast



To find this and previous JAMA Patient Pages, go to the Patient Page link on JAMA's Web site at http://www.jama.com. A Patient Page on fitness was published in the December 21, 2005, issue; and one on the benefits of regular physical activity was published in the June 14, 2000, issue.

Sources: National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health Medline Plus, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institute on Aging

The JAMA Patient Page is a public service of JAMA. The information and recommendations appearing on this page are appropriate in most instances, but they are not a substitute for medical diagnosis. For specific information concerning your personal medical condition, JAMA suggests that you consult your physician. This page may be photocopied noncommercially by physicians and other health care professionals to share with patients. To purchase bulk reprints, call 312/464-0776.




Also Meets CME requirements for:
Browse CME for all U.S. States
Accreditation Information
The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
Note: You must get at least of the answers correct to pass this quiz.
Please click the checkbox indicating that you have read the full article in order to submit your answers.
Your answers have been saved for later.
You have not filled in all the answers to complete this quiz
The following questions were not answered:
Sorry, you have unsuccessfully completed this CME quiz with a score of
The following questions were not answered correctly:
Commitment to Change (optional):
Indicate what change(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.
Your quiz results:
The filled radio buttons indicate your responses. The preferred responses are highlighted
For CME Course: A Proposed Model for Initial Assessment and Management of Acute Heart Failure Syndromes
Indicate what changes(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.


Spanish Patient Pages
Supplemental Content

Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

0 Citations

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging & repositioning the boxes below.

Articles Related By Topic
Related Collections
PubMed Articles

The Rational Clinical Examination: Evidence-Based Clinical Diagnosis
Falls, Older Adults

The Rational Clinical Examination: Evidence-Based Clinical Diagnosis
Original Article: Does This Older Adult With Lower Extremity Pain Have the Clinical Syndrome of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis?