Quiz: Seniors, How Much Do You Know About Exercise?

By Chris Woolston, M.S.

There's a world of difference between being old and feeling old. Your birthdays may be piling up, but that doesn't mean you have to slow down, grow weak, or lose energy. All it takes to keep your body and spirits strong is a little exercise - and an understanding of what it does. Take this quiz to see how much you know about exercise for seniors.

1. Aerobic exercise is the fastest way for seniors to lose weight.

True

False

2. Weight lifting isn't safe or effective for people in their 80s and 90s.

True

False

3. Which of the following exercises will NOT help build bone and prevent fractures?

a. Swimming

b. Weight lifting

c. Tennis

d. Walking

e. Bicycling

4. Which of these activities can cut your risk of heart disease roughly in half?

a. Regular walks

b. Jogging

c. Aerobics classes

d. All of the above

e. None of the above

5. Aerobic exercise can be just as effective as medications for treating severe depression in seniors.

True

False

6. Which disease usually makes it impossible to engage in vigorous exercise?

a. Arthritis

b. Diabetes

c. High blood pressure

d. All of the above

e. None of the above

Answers

1. Aerobic exercise is the fastest way for seniors to lose weight. True or false?

The correct answer is: False

Most seniors can lose weight faster through strength training than through aerobic exercise, according to a report in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. Lifting weights helps replace fat with muscle and speeds up the metabolism. After a few weeks of strength training, the study found, most of the subjects need to increase calories by 15 percent just to maintain body weight. However, since muscle is denser than fat, your weight can also stay the same or increase slightly as you gain muscle mass and burn fat.

2. Weight lifting isn't safe or effective for people in their 80s and 90s. True or false?

The correct answer is: False

A group of nursing home residents ranging in age from 87 to 96 improved their muscle strength by almost 180 percent after just eight weeks of resistance training. In general, frail elderly people find that their balance improves, their pace quickens, and stairs become less of a challenge after they begin age-appropriate strength training. Just be sure that any exercise program for seniors takes into account that they are more prone to bone fractures, tendinitis, and muscle strains.

3. Which of the following exercises will NOT help build bone and prevent fractures?

The correct answer is: a. Swimming

Swimming or biking are excellent for a workout, but they don't build bone. To ward off osteoporosis and prevent fractures, you need exercises in which you stay on your feet and support your own weight. Walking, jogging, dancing, tennis, and weight lifting are all good choices for maintaining healthy bones.

4. Which of these activities can cut your risk of heart disease roughly in half?

The correct answer is: d. All of the above

You don't need to push yourself to the limit to improve your odds against heart ailments. Researchers at Harvard found that women who walked just three hours a week cut their risk of heart disease by 40 percent, equivalent to the benefits of much more vigorous exercise.

5. Aerobic exercise may be just as effective as medications for treating severe depression in seniors. True or false?

The correct answer is: True

In a study of 156 severely depressed men and women over 50, Duke University researchers found that 16 weeks of aerobic exercise eased symptoms as thoroughly as a 16-week regimen of antidepressant drugs. People who are depressed should consult with their doctor to determine the best course of treatment and what part exercise can play.

6. Which disease usually makes it impossible to engage in vigorous exercise? The correct answer is: e. None of the above

In fact, regular exercise can be excellent therapy for all of these diseases - and many others. Just remember, always check with your doctor before starting any high-intensity exercise program.

References

Manson JE, et al. A prospective study of walking s compared with vigorous exercise in the prevention of coronary heart disease in women. NEJM 341:650-8.

Stay Stronger Longer With Weight Training. Harvard Health Letter. Vol 23,

Blumenthal, J..Exercise Treatment for Major Depression: Maintenance of Therapeutic Benefit at 10 Months Psychosomatic Medicine:62:633-638.

Ades PA, et al. Weight training improves walking endurance in healthy elderly persons. Ann Intern Med;124:568-572.

Fitness Facts for Older Americans. Administration on Aging.

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