walking is not enough exercise for the elderly
Exercising over 65 is not just about your heart. You also need to work on your strength, balance and coordination. If you're over 65 and exercising regularly, give yourself a pat on the back.

Being active is one of the best ways to boost your odds of ageing well, by keeping you mentally healthy and free of disease and disability. And it helps even if you start late in life.
But many older exercisers do only one activity and risk missing out on some important health benefits. That's a key finding of a recent study, published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, which looks at the leisure time physical activity of more than 22,000 older Australians.
The study, which focused specifically on those over 65, shows around two thirds of older people are exercising, with most of them favouring aerobic activity – usually walking. Just over 45 per cent reported walking, with more than half of these people reporting walking as their sole activity. Only 2.6 per cent of people in the study reported a combination of balance, strength and aerobic (heart and lung fitness) activities.

Walking for your health Walking is great for conditioning our heart and lungs, but as we get older we need to protect more than just our cardiovascular system, says Associate Professor Dafna Merom, lead author of the study. "I don't want to suggest walking is not good; it is excellent exercise," Merom says.

Walking regularly at a pace brisk enough that you can just hold a conversation cuts your risk of a range of chronic health conditions.
If you walk for:
  • 30 minutes (you can even break these down into 10-minute sessions) five days a week, you reduce your risk of heart disease by as much as 40 per cent and your risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • 60 minutes a day, you reduce your risk of heart disease by as much as 50 per cent and help protect against bowel cancer, plus breast cancer if you are a woman or prostate cancer if you are a man.

When walking is not enough But walking "may not provide optimal protection for other age-related health conditions such as falls and injuries," says Merom, from the University of Western Sydney. Falls are a significant cause of disability – and sometimes death – in older people.

To protect against falls, you need to challenge your sense of balance with activities such as dance and tai chi. Unfortunately, the study found in the previous 12 months only 2.1 per cent of older people danced and only 1.4 per cent did tai chi. "We only have proof [of a protective effect against falls] for tai chi," Merom says. "We know, however, that dance has great potential and we are doing the study now. Walking has not yet been shown to have a proven benefit for preventing falls."

Interestingly, research has shown dance and tai chi may be better than traditional Western exercise or walking for maintaining cognitive function (the thought processes in our brains), Merom says. Walking also provides little protection against the weakening of bones in post-menopausal women, she says. "Walking is a low impact exercise so it's not optimal for strengthening bones."

  http://www.abc.net.au/health/thepulse/stories/2012/09/06/3584457.htm?WT.svl=healthscience1 (Published 06/09/2012), “Over 65 and exercising? Try mixing it up”,  by Cathy Johnson.