How much physical activity do older adults need?
Physical Activity is Essential to Healthy Aging
an older adult, regular physical activity is one of the most
important things you can do for your health. It can prevent
many of the health problems that seem to come with age. It
also helps your muscles grow stronger so you can keep doing
your day-to-day activities without becoming dependent on
Not doing any physical activity can be bad for you, no
matter your age or health condition. Keep in mind, some
physical activity is better than none at all. Your health
benefits will also increase with the more physical activity
that you do.
65 years of age or older,
are generally fit, and have no limiting health conditions
you can follow the guidelines listed below.
10 minutes at a time is fine
We know 150 minutes each week sounds like a lot of time, but
it's not. That's 2 hours and 30 minutes, about the same
amount of time you might spend watching a movie. The good
news is that you can spread your activity out during the
week, so you don't have to do it all at once. You can even
break it up into smaller chunks of time during the day. It's
about what works best for you, as long as you're doing
physical activity at a moderate or vigorous effort for at
least 10 minutes at a time.
For Even Greater Health Benefits
Older adults should increase their activity to:
More time equals more health benefits
If you go beyond 300 minutes a week of
moderate-intensity activity, or 150 minutes a
week of vigorous-intensity activity, you'll gain
even more health benefits.
Aerobic activity what counts?
or "cardio" gets you breathing harder and your heart beating
faster. From pushing a lawn mower, to taking a dance class,
to biking to the store all types of activities count. As
long as you're doing them at a moderate or vigorous
intensity for at least 10 minutes at a time. Even
something as simple as walking is a great way to get the
aerobic activity you need, as long as it's at a moderately
is how hard your body is working during aerobic activity.
How do you know if you're doing moderate or vigorous aerobic
On a 10-point scale, where sitting is 0 and working as hard
as you can is 10, moderate-intensity aerobic activity is
a 5 or 6. It will make you breathe harder and your heart
beat faster. You'll also notice that you'll be able to talk,
but not sing the words to your favorite song.
Vigorous-intensity activity is a 7 or 8
on this scale. Your heart rate will increase quite a bit and
you'll be breathing hard enough so that you won't be able to
say more than a few words without stopping to catch your
You can do moderate- or vigorous-intensity aerobic activity,
or a mix of the two each week. Intensity is how hard your
body is working during aerobic activity. A rule of thumb is
that 1 minute of vigorous-intensity activity is about the
same as 2 minutes of moderate-intensity activity.
Everyone's fitness level is different. This means that
walking may feel like a moderately intense activity to you,
but for others, it may feel vigorous. It all depends on you
the shape you're in, what you feel comfortable doing, and
your health condition. What's important is that you do
physical activities that are right for you and your
Muscle-strengthening activities what counts?
For more help with what
counts as aerobic activity,
watch this video:
You need the Flash plugin to view this video.
For more information about strength training, visit
Growing Stronger: Strength Training for Older Adults.
Besides aerobic activity, you need to do things to make your
muscles stronger at least 2 days a week. These types of
activities will help keep you from losing muscle as you get
To gain health benefits, muscle-strengthening activities
need to be done to the point where it's hard for you to do
another repetition without help. A repetition is one
complete movement of an activity, like lifting a weight or
doing one sit-up. Try to do 812 repetitions per activity
that count as 1 set. Try to do at least 1 set of
muscle-strengthening activities, but to gain even more
benefits, do 2 or 3 sets.
There are many ways you can strengthen your muscles, whether
it's at home or the gym. The activities you choose should
work all the major muscle groups of your body (legs, hips,
back, chest, abdomen, shoulders, and arms). You may want to
Working with resistance bands
Doing exercises that use your body weight for resistance
(push ups, sit ups)
Heavy gardening (digging, shoveling)
Tips on Getting Active
Physical Activity a Part of an Older Adult's Life
If you're thinking, "How can I meet the guidelines each
week?" don't worry. You'll be surprised by the variety of
activities you have to choose from.
Here's what different older adults are doing to meet
David, Age 65
Harold, Age 67
● Link to CDC Page on
Physical Exercise for Older Adults
Exercise for Seniors of Administration on Aging