Can exercise be dangerous for the over-80s? I walk two miles every morning, work out with weights three times a week and swim 40 lengths every Friday. I also conquered Kilimanjaro on my 80th birthday. I am 82.
Norman Wanstall, Burford, Worcs.
You have sent me the letter of the year. The exercise regimen you describe is a rarity for a man of 82, and I congratulate you.
I have always insisted that before someone decides not to exercise, they must undergo a medical examination to check it’s safe for them to be sedentary — and it is never safe. The fact is, regular inactivity is bad for health.
Meanwhile, regular exercise has many benefits: it helps build healthy bones and muscles which, in older people, help to maintain strength and balance, giving a degree of protection against falls.
Studies show regular exercise of any kind reduces the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, heart disease, stroke and colon cancer — and of dying prematurely. So the simple answer to your question is that the benefits of physical activity exceed the risks for most of us — even as we get older.