Older adults (65+ years)

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Download and print the UK Physical Activity Guideline + P4E Getting started leaflet

(Written and produced by the Department of Health)

  • Older adults who participate in any amount of physical activity gain some health benefits, including maintenance of good physical and cognitive function. Some physical activity is better than none, and more physical activity provides greater health benefits.
  • Aim to be active daily. Over a week, activity should add up to at least 150 minutes (2½ hours) of moderate intensity activity in bouts of 10 minutes or more – one way to approach this is to do 30 minutes on at least 5 days a week.
  • For those who are already regularly active at moderate intensity, comparable benefits can be achieved through 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity spread across the week or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity.
  • Include muscle strengthening activity on at least two days a week.
  • Older adults at risk of falls should incorporate physical activity to improve balance and co‑ordination on at least two days a week.
  • Minimise the amount of time spent being sedentary (sitting) for extended periods
If you are looking for advice on getting started, click here.

Examples of physical activity

See Complete P4E programme to learn how each type of activity differs and video examples of some simple strengthening activities that you can do at home. Moderate intensity physical activities will cause older adults to get warmer and breathe harder and their hearts to beat faster, but they should still be able to carry on a conversation. Examples include:
  • Brisk walking
  • Ballroom dancing
Vigorous intensity physical activities will cause older adults to get warmer and breathe much harder and their hearts to beat rapidly, making it more difficult to carry on a conversation. Examples include:
  • Climbing stairs
  • Running
Muscle strengthening activities involve using body weight or working against a resistance. This should involve using all the major muscle groups. Examples include:
  • Carrying or moving heavy loads such as groceries
  • Activities that involve stepping and jumping such as dancing
  • Chair aerobics
Balance and co‑ordination activities may include:
  • Tai chi
  • Yoga
Minimising sedentary behaviour may include:
  • Reducing time spent watching TV
  • Taking regular walk breaks around the garden or street
  • Breaking up sedentary time such as swapping a long bus or car journey for walking part of the way

What are the benefits of being active daily?

  • Reduces risk of a range of diseases, e.g. coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes
  • Helps maintain a healthy weight
  • Helps maintain ability to perform everyday tasks with ease
  • Improves self-esteem

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