Older adults

 The National Physical Activity Recommendations for older adults (PDF) apply to older people across all levels of health and ability, and have application for older people living at home or in residential care. In addition to the guidelines for adults, the additional recommendations apply for older adults:

  • Do some form of physical activity, no matter what your age, weight, health problems or abilities.
  • Be active every day in as many ways as possible, doing a range of physical activities that incorporate fitness, strength, balance and flexibility.
  • Put together at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most, preferably all, days.
  • If you have stopped physical activity, or are starting a new physical activity, you should start at a level that is easily manageable and gradually build up the recommended amount, type and frequency of activity.
  • If you continue to enjoy a lifetime of vigorous physical activity, you should carry on doing so in a manner suited to your capability into later life, provided recommended safety procedures and guidelines are adhered to.

Remember that these 30 minutes can be accumulated in shorter bouts of 10 minutes or more during the course of the day, especially if you are just starting out and/or experience health concerns.

If you have stopped physical activity because of a new health concern, you may need to discuss resuming physical activity with your doctor, or at minimum resume physical activity under supervision. Gradual progression in the amount and intensity of physical activity is important for older people to gain the best health benefits.

It’s never too late to start becoming physically active. ‘Too old’ or ‘too frail’ are not in themselves reasons for older people to not undertake physical activity. In fact, older people become unwell more often from not undertaking physical activity, than from participating in physical activity. Most physical activities can be adjusted to accommodate older people with a range of abilities and health concerns.

Physical activity is also valuable for well older people, where maintenance of good health, independence and disease prevention can be achieved. Many forms of physical activity can be performed with a partner, friend, or in a group, which often increases the enjoyment and takes the mind off the physical nature of the activity.

In relation to the content above, the term ‘older people’ primarily refers to those aged over 65 years, and over 55 years for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It is recognised that there are difficulties in ascribing a particular chronological age to define ‘older people’, and that there is wide variability in health status, function and wellbeing at any age.