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Risks of Exercise for Older Adults

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Key Points

  • The benefits of exercise greatly outweigh the risks related to being physically inactive.

  • The majority of older adults can safely take up light to moderate exercise, such as walking, with medical clearance suggested before starting vigorous exercise.

  • An older adult at high risk for or diagnosed with heart disease, or whose weight is categorized as obese, should consult with a health care professional prior to becoming more physically active.

  • Older adults are not at an increased risk for musculoskeletal injuries.

  • Tips to avoid injury include: begin slowly with low-intensity exercises, warm up with low-intensity exercises at the start of an exercise bout, be aware of your surroundings, and choose a safe environment.

  • Older adults should take precautions or avoid exercising outdoors in very warm or very cold weather.

  • Prescreening and exercise consultation to identify and provide modifications for age-related issues allows older adults to safely participate in exercise.


  • Exercise
  • Elderly
  • Risk
  • Safety
  • Medical clearance
  • Screening
  • Older adult
  • Physical activity
  • Adverse events

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Correspondence to Liza Stathokostas Ph.D. .

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Stathokostas, L., Jones, G. (2015). Risks of Exercise for Older Adults. In: Sullivan, G., Pomidor, A. (eds) Exercise for Aging Adults. Springer, Cham.

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