Exercise for older adults

Exercise is important for older adults to promote healthy ageing

For Australians aged 65 and over, physical activity becomes important in maintaining energy levels, increasing joint movement, preventing or managing mental health problems (by reducing stress and anxiety), and improving mood and memory function.

However, despite the significant benefits of being physically active, the physical activity levels of many Australians are less than the level recommended to gain a health benefit.

In Australia:

• For people aged 65 and over, 75% were not sufficiently active.
• For females, 77% were not sufficiently active.
• For males, 74% were not sufficiently active.

Exercise provides a wide range of benefits, the main being the management and treatment of chronic conditions, and with older age comes greater incidence of chronic illness and disease.

In fact, 3 in 5 Australians (60%) aged 65 years and over have at least one chronic condition and chronic disease is a leading cause of disability in older adults.

Let’s take a closer look

Australia has developed Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines which outline the minimum amount of physical activity required for all ages, including older Australians.

As older people make up a considerable proportion of Australia’s population – in 2017, over 1 in 7 Australians were aged 65 years and over – it’s important they have their own set of physical activity recommendations.

These recommendations for older Australians (those aged 65 years and over, or aged 55 years and over for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples) state that older people should be active every day in as many ways as possible, doing a range of physical activities that incorporate fitness, strength, balance and flexibility.

It’s recommended that they should complete at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most, preferably all, days, no matter their age, weight, health problems or abilities.

Exercise for older adults

This latest eBook by Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA) has been designed to encourage older Australians to become more active. It also covers the benefits of exercise for a wide range of common conditions and illnesses you may encounter as you age.

It’s important to remember that for older people who are starting to re-engage in physical activity after a period of time, or for the first time ever, they should consult with an accredited exercise professional or their GP. You will be encouraged to start at a level that is easily manageable and then gradually build up to the recommended amount, type and frequency of activity.

Read more in the Exercise for Older Adults eBook! Download here. 

Written by Exercise & Sports Science Australia. Peer reviewed by Exercise and Sports Science Professionals.