By Barbara Nicklas, PhD

Woman Stretching


I would like to start an exercise program, but I just turned 73 and I’m afraid that I’m “too old.” Can a man or woman in their 70’s really benefit from starting a regular exercise program?


Exciting new research show that it is never too late to start enjoying regular exercise. A recent study of people 70 years of age and older confirms significant benefits of regular exercise for longevity, maintenance of daily living skills, socialization and avoidance of poor health outcomes, even among those who only just began exercising! Subjects were considered to be physically active if they exercised for four hours per week, including activities such as swimming, jogging, or walking. These results show that it’s never too late to start enjoying physical activity, and that doing so truly leads to a healthier, more independent life. At Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, we are studying whether the benefits of regular exercise are enhanced when weight loss is added to an exercise program. This study in called INFINITE; it stands for Investigating Fitness Interventions in the Elderly. Participants in the study will receive, at no cost, a supervised 5 month exercise program, body fat, bone density, cholesterol, and blood sugar testing. Persons may qualify for the study if they are 65-79 years of age, overweight, a non-smoker, and willing to walk on a treadmill four days a week.