Older Adults

In general, elders should follow the same guidelines for weekly physical activity levels as adults. 22 minutes a day or 150 minutes a week. The intensity of the activities are the only thing that might change. For people above the age of 65 focusing on bone health and balance is most important, and there are a number of exercises that don’t put too much stress on the body but still lead to great health benefits.

Sustaining bone health

Many of the exercises for bone health can be completed with the help of household items like a chair or even a tennis ball.

Hand grip: Hold a tennis ball or other small rubber or foam ball in one hand.

  1. Slowly squeeze the ball as hard as you can and hold it for 3-5 seconds.
  2. Relax the squeeze slowly.
  3. Repeat 10-15 times.
  4. Repeat 10-15 times with other hand.
  5. Repeat 10-15 times more with each hand.

Source: Go 4 Life: From the National Institute on Aging at NIH

Side Leg Raise

  1. Stand behind a sturdy chair with feet slightly apart, holding on for balance. Breathe in slowly.
  2. Breathe out and slowly lift one leg out to the side. Keep your back straight and your toes facing forward. The leg you are standing on should be slightly bent.
  3. Hold position for 1 second.
  4. Breathe in as you slowly lower your leg.
  5. Repeat 10-15 times.
  6. Repeat 10-15 times with other leg.
  7. Repeat 10-15 more times with each leg.

Source: Go 4 Life: From the National Institute on Aging at NIH

Keeping balance

Group of people doing Tai Chi outdoorsFor elders, avoiding falls is really important and the best way to avoid injuries that can lead to loss of independence or costly medical bills is by working daily to keep a strong balance. Like the exercises for bone health, working on balance can be done in the home with everyday objects.

Tai Chi in your home

Balance is important to help you perform many of your daily activities and prevent falls. Research has shown that tai chi can significantly reduce the risk of falls among older people. In Tai Chi, which is sometimes called "moving meditation," you work to improve your balance by moving your body slowly, gently, and precisely, while breathing deeply. Other benefits from practicing Tai Chi include:

  • improvements in bone and heart health
  • easing of pain and stiffness from osteoarthritis
  • better sleep
  • improvements in overall wellness

Source: Go 4 Life: From the National Institute on Aging at NIH

For more ideas
Find more ideas on how too keep moving.
From the National Institute on Aging. Check out their website for more exercise tips for elders. The website can also be viewed in Spanish.
This publication is part of the Healthy Eating & Physical Activity Across Your Lifespan Series from the Weight-control Information Network. The series offers health tips for readers at various life stages, including adulthood, pregnancy, parenthood, and later life. The entire series is also available in Spanish.
The President's Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition engages, educates, and empowers all Americans to adopt a healthy lifestyle that includes regular physical activity and good nutrition. Since 1956, the Council has created and promoted programs and initiatives that motivate people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities to be active and eat healthy.