Healthy Aging

Three Keys to Exercising as You Age

Beliefs, body awareness, and technology help

Author performs exercise that caused alarm during cardiac rehab

To some, I am in the “late elderly” stage of life. To me, “late” sounds like I died, “elderly” sounds like I’m frail. Although I will be 77 this year, I am neither dead nor frail.

I exercise regularly to maintain my health, strength, and balance. Exercising also helps me network with others, which is important as we get older.

In January 2022, I had open-heart surgery. My heart was fine, my arteries were not. Three months later, I enrolled in a cardiac rehab facility. It felt like going to the gym twice a week. You exercised solo in a room with others while wearing a heart-monitoring transmitter.

In one session, I did the opposite arm and leg raise exercise on a ball, as shown above. This exercise strengthens core and back muscles.

Suddenly, a young physical therapist rushed up to me. Worried about my balance, she showed me a “safer” version of the exercise without the ball. Being curious, I followed her request. I did not tell her my version, which she saw as risky, helps improve balance.

It’s easy to buy into an external label, like late elderly, and take on its persona. I don’t want other people’s labels to influence my reality.

Do you?

What do you want from exercise?

As people age, what do they want from exercise? Here is what two of my friends say:

I want to go on a hike or bike ride if someone asks. Many of my friends with sedentary lifestyles have limited their options.

I’d like to remain fit enough to play tennis in my late eighties. And avoid the pain and suffering of a deteriorating body.

I want to meet or exceed the CDC’s weekly exercise requirements for those over 65. Besides aerobic activities, the CDC recommends muscle-strengthening and balance activities. I also want to maintain a normal range of motion for joints and muscles.

What are your goals?

For those who struggle with starting or continuing exercise as you grow older, this story is for you. It covers mindsets, body…



Pascal Gambardella, PhD
In Fitness And In Health

I write about adventures in exploring and modeling the dynamics of human behavior. Mind map link to my stories: