Physical Activity Guidelines for Older Adults

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that older adults should move more and sit less. However, any physical activity is better than none, as even five minutes of physical activity has immediate health benefits.

Older Adult Recommendations

Choose variety. Engage in a variety of exercises that include aerobic, muscle-strengthening exercise, and balance training.

Start slow! Determine your level of physical activity relative to your level of fitness.

Speak with your doctor. Speak with your healthcare provider about how chronic conditions may impact your ability to do regular physical activity.

Aim for 150 Minutes. Be physically active for at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 minutes to 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week

Moderate-intensity physical activity includes activities such as a brisk walk, playing tennis or raking the yard.

Vigorous-intensity physical activity includes activities such as running, jogging, carrying heavy groceries upstairs, shoveling snow or participating in a strenuous fitness class.

Don’t forget to strengthen! Incorporate muscle strengthening activities two or more days a week for all major muscle groups. This includes activities such as weigh training, using elastic bands, doing push-ups or certain types of yoga.

Health Benefits of Physical Activity

  • Reduced risk of fall-related injuries
  • Brain health benefits, including possible improved cognitive function, reduced anxiety and depression risk, improved sleep and quality of life
  • Reduced risk of further disease or early death and improved physical function and quality of life for people with various chronic medical conditions

Safety Tips

Physical activity can be safely done by almost everyone. However, older adults should be under the care of a health care provider if they have chronic conditions to see what physical activity would be most appropriate.

Choose activities that fit your level of fitness and health goals. Remember to increase physical activity gradually with low intensity activities and slowly moving to more intense activities. Always use appropriate sports and protective equipment to stay safe in your chosen physical activity!