How Much Should You Exercise As You Get Older?

With the over 65’s potentially having the most to gain from increasing their activity levels and partaking in exercise programmes, we look at how much you should be doing, and what this exercise could be.

This is based on guidelines from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and guidance from the Chief Medical Officer, and is relevant to all healthy adults aged 65 years and above.

They are also relevant to individuals in this age range with non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Individuals with specific health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, may need to take extra precautions and seek medical advice before striving to achieve the recommended levels of physical activity for older adults.

WHO guidelines for exercise in the over 65’s

1. Adults aged 65 years and above should do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week, or at least 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week, or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous intensity activity.

2. Aerobic activity should be performed in bouts of at least 10 minutes duration.

3. For additional health benefits, adults aged 65 years and above should increase their moderate intensity aerobic physical activity to 300 minutes per week, or engage in 150 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity per week, or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous intensity activity.

4. Adults of this age group with poor mobility, should perform physical activity to enhance balance and prevent falls on three or more days per week.

5. Muscle-strengthening activities should be done involving major muscle groups, on two or more days a week.

6. When adults of this age group cannot do the recommended amounts of physical activity due to health conditions, they should be as physically active as their abilities and conditions allow.

The Chief Medical Officer also advises that “All older adults should minimise the amount of time spent being sedentary (sitting) for extended periods”.

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

Physical activities that strengthen muscles 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

Activities to improve balance and co‐ordination 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

These are just some ideas of how you can work towards your exercise goals. To get an exercise plan tailored for you, or find out more about how we can help you get moving, contact ElWell on 01865 238185 or hello@el-well.com and talk to us about a personalised Move package.