Exercise Tips for Older Adults

Many healthy and fit older adults can follow the same physical activity guidelines established for younger adults.  However, those who are unfit, or who have activity-limiting conditions, may need additional guidelines. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Performance provides the following recommendations for older adults:

  • When older adults cannot do 2 hours and 30 minutes (or 30 min a day for 5 days a week) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week because of their health, they should be as physically active as their abilities and conditions allow.
  • Older adults should do exercises that maintain or improve balance if they are at risk for falling.
  • Older adults should use relative intensity to determine their level of effort for physical activity.
  • Older adults with chronic conditions should understand how their conditions will affect their ability to do regular physical activity safely.

Here are some tips for doing physical activities safely and for reducing the risk of injuries and other adverse events:

  • Understand the risks, but be confident that physical activity is safe for almost everyone.
  • Choose to do types of physical activity that are appropriate for current fitness levels and health goals, recognizing that some activities are safer than others.
  • Increase physical activity gradually over time whenever more activity is necessary to meet guidelines or health goals. Inactive older adults should “start low and go slow” by gradually increasing how often and how long activities are done.
  • Use appropriate gear and sports equipment, look for safe environments, follow rules and policies, and make sensible choices about when, where, and how to be active.
  • Accept the care and advice of a health-care provider if there are chronic conditions or symptoms. Older adults with health or wellness concerns should consult their health-care provider about the types and amounts of activity appropriate for them.

Information was adapted for this site.  For more information visit the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.