Physical activity for older people (aged 65 years and older)

Staying active is important when you’re getting older (including if you have health conditions). Regular physical activity can improve your health and wellbeing, and make it easier to perform daily tasks.

Physical activity is any movement of the body that uses energy.

You should aim for a mixture of aerobic, resistance, flexibility and balance activities.

Recommendations for older adults

  1. Spend more time being physically active and less time sitting down.

    Do lots of daily physical activities such as:

    Any level of physical activity is better than doing nothing!
    • walking to the shops
    • vacuuming
    • gardening
    • washing the car.
  2. Aim for at least 30 minutes of aerobic physical activity on 5 days each week. Aerobic activity makes your breathing and heart rate increase.

    Some examples of aerobic activities to increase your heart rate and breathing include:

    Do 60 minutes aerobic activity on 5 days each week for additional health benefits and to lose weight.
    • brisk walking
    • ballroom dancing
    • cycling
    • kapa haka
    • lane swimming
    • playing with grandchildren
    • kilikiti.
  3. Aim for 3 sessions of flexibility and balance activities, and 2 sessions of resistance activities each week (in addition to the aerobic physical activity).

    Some examples of resistance, flexibility and balance activities include:

    • Photo of a Māori man in his garden with the silverbeet. resistance (for muscle and bone strength):

      • carrying shopping
      • standing up and sitting down repeatedly
      • weight training
    • flexibility (for easy movement):

      • modified tai chi
      • stretching
      • gardening
      • yoga
      • pilates
    • balance (to prevent falls):

      • bowls
      • modified tai chi
      • Otago exercise programme
      • standing on one leg
      • yoga.
  4. Speak to your doctor before starting or increasing physical activity.

  5. Start off slowly and build up to the recommended daily physical activity levels.

Find out more from the Ministry

The Guidelines on Physical Activity for Older People have more information, including a downloadable Physical Activity for Older People factsheet.

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