Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Physical Therapy (MPT)


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Beverly Johnson


Aged; Exercise


The population of elderly individuals is continually growing due to advancements in medicine and technology. Several physiological and psychological changes occur throughout the aging process. Regular physical activity is an effective therapy for slowing the aging process and preventing many of the conditions that occur with aging, such as hypertension, coronary artery disease, obesity, diabetes, depression, and anxiety. In addition, the active individual is more independent and functional in his or her activities of daily living compared to the person who remains sedentary. Older individuals who maintain functional levels of flexibility, strength, and cardiovascular endurance are rarely candidates for nursing home placement.

The purpose of this literature review is to provide physical therapists and other health care professionals with recommended exercise guidelines for the elderly population. The most common physiological changes that occur among the elderly will be discussed as well as the benefits of an exercise program. The basic components of a pre-exercise examination will be given. The exam will provide a basis for each individual's exercise prescription. The exercise prescription will include flexibility, strengthening, and aerobic exercises as well as guidelines for the frequency, duration, and intensity of each of these exercises. Lastly, the signs and symptoms of overexertion will be discussed.

The results of this literature review will provide a basic understanding of the importance of an exercise program. Individuals who engage in physical activity are able to function at their optimal physical and emotional levels. The key to optimal health is preventive care that includes an exercise program.