How older women can enjoy better health & fitness

Excerpt: Older women who are physically active each day can improve their health and longevity, even if they start later in life. Age-friendly activities such as tai chai, yoga and brisk walking can ease depression, improve balance and protect against heart disease and stroke. Joyful activities, like dancing, not only lift the spirit but significantly reduce the risk of physical disabilities.

The good news is that women can benefit substantially from the positive health effects of regular physical activity, even if they start later in life.

Older women who became physically active after age 65 lowered their risk of premature death by 48%, heart disease by 36% and cancer by 51%,* compared with those who stayed sedentary, according to a Journal of the American Medical Association study. Simple, enjoyable activities like walking, swimming, gardening and dancing led to reduced health risks and disability, the researchers said.

Women and men who took up regular, moderate physical activity later in life were 3 times more likely to stay healthy* than those who remained inactive, according to a study by Montreal’s Concordia University. They lowered their risks of chronic illness, depression, physical disability, and cognitive decline.*

Health advantages of age-friendly activities

Here’s how different types of age-appropriate physical activities can boost women’s health and fitness:

  1. Lift your mood with tai chi. Exercises that engage the body and mind, such as tai chi, can ease depression and are safe and gentle options for older adults,* according to McMaster University. While many types of exercise may help reduce depression in older adults, tai chi was found to be the most effective, says McMaster.
  2. Walk briskly to strengthen your heart. Women who walked briskly for 30 minutes a day reduced their risk of fatal and non-fatal heart attacks by 30% to 40%,* reported a study in The New England Journal of Medicine. Women who walked at least 3 hours a week also reduced their risk of stroke by nearly 50%,* according to a Stroke study.
  3. Practice yoga to boost balance. Yoga involves controlled movements, concentration and holding of various poses, which can improve balance* and help prevent falls and fall-related injuries, advises McMaster University.
  4. Dance to live well each day. Among 16 different types of exercise, dancing offered the greatest benefit in reducing the risk of disability for activities of daily living in older women,* according to a Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science study.
  5. Try aquatics for a low-impact workout. Water-based exercise is at least as effective as land-based exercise for improving strength, endurance and flexibility in older women,* reports McMaster University. Aquatic exercise also helps relieve pain, stiffness and other symptoms of osteoarthritis,* according to a Physical Therapy study.

Chartwell Retirement Residences offers a wide range of enjoyable, age-friendly physical activities such as walking clubs, dance classes, yoga, tai chi, and gardening for residents to choose from.

The following sources provides references for this blog:
1. Journal of the American Medical Association. “Starting exercise may help older women live longer.” (2003), online: 2. CBC News. “Active seniors more likely to ‘age successfully.’” (2013), online: 3. British Journal of Sports Medicine. “Taking up physical activity in later life and healthy ageing: the English longitudinal study of ageing.” (2013), online: 4. McMaster University. “Exercise plays an active role in treating depression.” (2016), online: 5. National Institutes/National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. “Brisk walking reduces risk of heart attack in women.” (1999), online: 6. “Walking regularly slashes stroke risk in women by nearly 50 percent.” (2013), online: 7. McMaster University. “3 research-based benefits of yoga for healthy aging.” (2017), online: 8. Science Daily. “Dancing may help older women maintain the ability to perform daily tasks.” (2018), online: 9. McMaster University. “Why aquatic exercise is making a splash with health conscious adults.” (2017), online: 10. Physical Therapy. “Effect of therapeutic aquatic exercise on symptoms and function associated with lower limb osteoarthritis: systematic review with meta-analysis.” (2014), online: