Older Adults

Regular physical activity is essential for healthy aging. Adults ages 65 years and older gain substantial health benefits from regular physical activity, and these benefits continue to occur throughout their lives.

Promoting physical activity for older adults is especially important because this population is the least physically active of any age group.

For adults aged 65 and older who are fit and have no limiting chronic conditions, the guidelines are the same as those for all adults.

Guidelines that Are the Same for Adults and Older Adults

Avoid Inactivity
Some physical activity is better than none — and any amount has health benefits.

Do Aerobic Activity
For substantial health benefits, do one of the following:

  • 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) each week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity (such as brisk walking or gardening)
  • 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) each week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity (such as jogging or swimming laps)
  • An equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity

Do aerobic physical activity in episodes of at least 10 minutes and, if possible, spread it out through the week.

For even greater health benefits, do one of the following:

  • Increase moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity to 300 minutes (5 hours) each week
  • Increase vigorous-intensity aerobic activity for 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) each week

Doing more will lead to even greater health benefits.

Strengthen Muscles
Do muscle-strengthening activities (such as lifting weights or using resistance bands) that are moderate or high intensity and involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week.

Guidelines Just for Older Adults

  • When older adults cannot do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week because of chronic conditions, 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 of falling
  • Older adults should determine their level of effort for physical activity relative to their level of fitness
  • Older adults with chronic conditions should understand whether and how their conditions affect their ability to do regular physical activity safely

Read the full chapter on Guidelines for older adults.