Fitness and exercise for older adults

Keeping active at any age

No matter what your age, it’s really important to be active.

Being active as we get older is especially important and can make you feel and look better… and can add years to life.

All it takes is at least 30 minutes of activity, such as a brisk walk, on most days of the week, to give you:

  • more energy
  • better sleep
  • stronger muscles
  • improved balance, which means less risk of falls.

Being active is great fun and can also:

  • keep joints mobile
  • reduce stress
  • lower blood pressure and cholesterol
  • help manage diabetes
  • pain and weight
  • improve concentration
  • improve memory and mood.

What kinds of activity should I do?

The best activities are, of course, the ones you enjoy doing. So find active things you like to do and start with them.

If you are already active well done… keep it up!

Strength activities

Keep using your muscles. When you have strong muscles you can continue doing the things that you enjoy and, very importantly, will help you stay steady on your feet.

Balance and strength

Regular physical activity offers many health benefits to older adults.  Maintaining good balance and muscle strength are important to ensure we can continue to be active without the risk of falling.

There are simple exercises you can do at home such as balance exercises like standing on one foot and strength exercises like push-ups, squats or using cans of food or bottles of water for simple weight exercise. Get some ideas about home exercises.

If you are looking for profession help Strength for Life is a program to increase strength, improve balance and reduce the risk of falls in adults over 50 years.  Strength for Life is available across the state and delivered by accredited fitness professionals for an affordable fee.  For more information and to locate your nearest service visit the COTA website.

Everyday activities

Gardening, walking, dancing and swimming are just some ideas.

If you’re out and about, why not park a little further away or get off the bus a stop or two early and walk the rest of the way?

Try lots of things that keep you moving and look for ways to include activity into your day such as getting up and stretching during ad breaks when watching the telly.

How about standing up when talking on the phone or reading the paper?

Move more through the day in as many ways as you can. It all adds up!

Don’t sit for too long

It’s also important to not sit for too long during the day, even if you have been active for the recommended 30 minutes.

Break up sitting time by changing posture and getting up for short breaks.

How much do I need to do?

Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate activity on most days of the week. Moderate means you don’t get out of breath. If you do work up a sweat however, that’s ok.

Walking is ideal. Try to build up to at least 30 minutes and remember, 10 minutes at a time is fine. Start off with one or two 10 minute walks a day and build up gradually. You don’t need to do your 30 minutes all in one go.

If you don’t like walking try:

  • swimming 
  • bike riding
  • dancing
  • gardening.

Of course, if you do more than 30 minutes a day, your body will enjoy even greater benefits.

Need some help to get active?

For information on being active the Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines for Adults (PDF 854KB) is a great place to start.

Talk with your doctor or health professional if you have any concerns about increasing your activity. They’re also a good source of information about services and programs that can help you be active and stay active.

Being active and having a healthy diet will assist you in maintaining your health as you get older. Remember to keep moving, eat well and call on friends and family whenever you need help along the way.