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Seniors who exercise regularly experience less physical decline as they age

The majority of adults aged 65 and older remains inactive and fails to meet recommended physical activity guidelines, previous research has shown. However, these studies have not represented elders living in retirement communities who may have more access to recreational activities and exercise equipment. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri found that older adults in retirement communities who reported more exercise experienced less physical decline than their peers who reported less exercise, although many adults -- even those who exercised -- did not complete muscle-strengthening exercises, which are another defense against physical decline.

"Physical decline is natural in this age group, but we found that people who exercised more declined less," said Lorraine Phillips, an associate professor in the MU Sinclair School of Nursing. "The most popular physical activities the residents of the retirement community reported doing were light housework and walking, both of which are easily integrated into individuals' daily lives, but these exercises are not the best choices for maintaining muscle strength."

"For older individuals, walking may represent the most familiar and comfortable type of physical activity," Phillips said. "Muscle-strengthening exercises should be promoted more aggressively in retirement communities and made more appealing to residents.

Source: University of Missouri-Columbia

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