How much physical activity do older adults need?

Physical Activity is Essential to Healthy Aging

As an older adult, regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. It can prevent or delay many of the health problems that seem to come with age. It also helps your muscles grow stronger so you can keep doing your day-to-day activities without becoming dependent on others.

Keep in mind, some physical activity is better than none at all. Your health benefits will also increase with the more physical activity that you do.

Adults aged 65 and older need:

  • At least 150 minutes a week (for example, 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week) of moderate intensity activity such as brisk walking. Or they need 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity activity such as hiking, jogging, or running.
  • At least 2 days a week of activities that strengthen muscles.
  • Activities to improve balance such as standing on one foot about 3 days a week.

If chronic conditions affect your ability to meet these recommendations, be as physically active as your abilities and conditions allow.

Making Physical Activity a Part of an Older Adult’s Life

Don’t worry if you’re thinking, “How can I meet the recommended physical activity levels each week?” You’ll be surprised by the variety of activities you have to choose from.

Move More and Sit Less

Older adults should move more and sit less throughout the day. Keep in mind, some physical activity is better than none. Older adults who sit less and do any amount of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity gain some health benefits. Your health benefits will also increase with the more physical activity that you do.

Older adults should follow the exercises as specified in the following options. Check out this print-friendly age chart for a quick snapshot of the recommended amount of weekly activity for adults.

Example 1
Icon: Walking

Moderate-intensity aerobic activity

(e.g., brisk walking) for 150 minutes (for example, 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week)

AND

Icon: Weight Lifting

Muscle-strengthening activities

on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).

AND

Icon: Balance

Balance activities

Walking backward, standing on one leg, or using a wobble board about 3 days a week.

Example 2
Icon: Running

Vigorous-intensity aerobic activity

(e.g., jogging or running) for 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) every week

AND

Icon: Weight Lifting

Muscle-strengthening activities

on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).

AND

Icon: Balance

Balance activities

Walking backward, standing on one leg, or using a wobble board about 3 days a week.

Example 3
Icons: A combination of walking and running

An equivalent mix of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity

on 2 or more days a week

AND

Icon: Weight Lifting

Muscle-strengthening activities

on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).

AND

Icon: Balance

Balance activities

Walking backward, standing on one leg, or using a wobble board about 3 days a week.

Stay active: It can make life better.

Find out how exercise can support physical and mental health from the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition [PDF-15.2MB]

Growing Stronger: Strength Training for Older Adults [PDF-515KB] is a 2002 resource with exercises to increase muscle strength, maintain bone integrity, and improve balance, coordination, and mobility.

Learn how to measure your physical fitness level.

Listen to the CDC Podcast: The Importance of Physical Activity for Older Adults

Check out the Move Your Way® Factsheet for Older Adults [PDF-1.67MB]

Active People, Healthy NationSM is a CDC initiative to help people be more physically active.

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