Health benefits of physical activity in older patients: a review

Int J Clin Pract. 2009 Feb;63(2):303-20. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-1241.2008.01957.x.


As the number of elderly persons in our country increases, more attention is being given to geriatric healthcare needs and successful ageing is becoming an important topic in medical literature. Concept of successful ageing is in first line on a preventive approach of care for older people. Promotion of regular physical activity is one of the main non-pharmaceutical measures proposed to older subjects as low rate of physical activity is frequently noticed in this age group. Moderate but regular physical activity is associated with a reduction in total mortality among older people, a positive effect on primary prevention of coronary heart disease and a significant benefit on the lipid profile. Improving body composition with a reduction in fat mass, reducing blood pressure and prevention of stroke, as well as type 2 diabetes, are also well established. Prevention of some cancers (especially that of breast and colon), increasing bone density and prevention of falls are also reported. Moreover, some longitudinal studies suggest that physical activity is linked to a reduced risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer's disease in particular.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Body Composition
  • Bone Density / physiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Coronary Disease / prevention & control
  • Dementia / prevention & control
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / prevention & control
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Fractures, Bone / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / prevention & control
  • Lipids / blood
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Physical Fitness / physiology*
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / prevention & control
  • Walking / physiology


  • Lipids