To stay healthy or to improve health, older adults need to do two types of physical activity each week: aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity.
Physical activity for older persons (aged 60 and over)Older adults aged 65 or older, who are generally fit and have no health conditions that limit their mobility, should try to be active daily and should do:
At least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as cycling or fast walking every week, and muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).
An equivalent mix of moderate and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity every week (for example two 30-minute runs plus 30 minutes of fast walking), and muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).
What counts as moderate-intensity aerobic activity?
Examples of activities that require moderate effort for most people include:
- walking fast
- doing water aerobics
- ballroom and line dancing
- riding a bike on level ground or with few hills
- playing doubles tennis
- pushing a lawn mower
Every little helps
- Inactive people get more immediate health benefits from being active again than people who are already fit. Some activity is better than none at all.
- Moderate-intensity aerobic activity means you're working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat. One way to tell if you're working at a moderate intensity is if you can still talk but you can't sing the words to a song.
- Daily activities such as shopping, cooking or housework don't count towards your 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity. This is because the effort required isn’t hard enough to increase your heart rate.
- However, it's important to minimise the amount of time you spend sitting watching TV, reading or listening to music. Some activity, however light, is better for your health than none at all.
Examples of activities that require vigorous effort for most people include:
- jogging or running
- swimming fast
- riding a bike fast or on hills
- playing singles tennis
- playing football
- hiking uphill
- energetic dancing
- martial arts
What counts as muscle-strengthening activity?
- Muscle-strengthening exercises are counted in repetitions and sets. A repetition is one complete movement of an activity, like lifting a weight or doing a sit-up. A set is a group of repetitions.
- For each activity, try to do 8 to 12 repetitions in each set. Try to do at least 1 set of each muscle-strengthening activity. You'll get even more benefits if you do 2 or 3 sets.
- Older adults at risk of falls, such as people with weak legs, poor balance and some medical conditions, should do exercises to improve balance and co-ordination on at least two days a week. These could include yoga.
- There are many ways you can strengthen your muscles, whether at home or in the gym. Examples of muscle-strengthening activities include:
- lifting weights
- working with resistance bands
- doing exercises that use your body weight for resistance, such as push-ups or sit-ups
- heavy gardening, such as digging or shovelling
- You can do activities that strengthen your muscles on the same day or on different days as your aerobic activity, whatever's best for you.