Physical Activity for Older Adults

Regular physical activity is one of the best ways older adults can protect and improve their health. Finding the time to get active every day can keep you mobile and independent and reduce the risk of many health problems.

To improve your health and lower your risk of falls, it is important to regularly do:

  • Moderate and intense aerobic exercises
  • Muscle-strengthening exercises
  • Balance-training exercises

Recommended Amount of Activity

Each week, older adults should try to do at least:

  • Two hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise
  • One hour and 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise
  • Two days of muscle-strengthening exercise
  • Three days of balance-training exercises

For aerobic activities, exercise for 10 minutes at a time, spread across at least five days each week. Two minutes of moderate-intensity activity counts the same as one minute of vigorous-intensity activity.

For muscle-strengthening, exercise until it becomes difficult to continue. Target legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms.

Remember, more activity is always better, but any amount is better than none.


For aerobic exercises, you can:

  • Walk/jog
  • Dance
  • Swim
  • Take water aerobics or other exercise classes
  • Ride a bike
  • Golf without a cart
  • Garden, rake or push a lawn mower

To strengthen muscles, you can:

  • Work with exercise bands or hand-held weights
  • Carry groceries
  • Dig, lift or carry items while gardening
  • Do pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups or other resistance exercises

To improve your balance, you can:

  • Walk backwards, sideways, on your heels and on your toes
  • Stand up from a sitting position
  • Take a tai chi class

Evidence-based Falls Prevention Physical Activity Programs

Participants who complete these programs have been shown to reduce their personal falls risk. There are many types of programs, including Tai Chi for Arthritis, A Matter of Balance, Bingocize® and more.

For more information, contact your local Older Adult Center.

Exercise: Getting Started

Additional Resources

More Information