How Much Physical Activity Do Older Adults Need?

Discover how much physical activity older adults need for healthy aging & improved quality of life.

June 2, 2024

Importance of Physical Activity for Older Adults

Regular physical activity plays a crucial role in maintaining health and well-being, particularly for older adults. Besides the numerous physiological and psychological benefits, it also enhances overall quality of life and brings about significant economic advantages.

Enhancing Quality of Life

Even though regular physical activity might not significantly lengthen life expectancy in older adults, it has been shown to enhance their quality of life considerably. Engaging in regular exercise can improve physiological and psychological functions, maintain personal independence, and reduce demands for acute and chronic care services. All these factors contribute to a better quality of life for older adults.

Moreover, a 2016 study revealed that physical activity among US adults aged 50 and above can enhance health and quality of life, whereas physical inactivity contributes to increased healthcare costs.

Economic Benefits of Physical Activity

From an economic perspective, regular physical activity offers significant benefits. Research indicates that the medical costs for inactive adults are substantially higher than for active adults, and these costs increase with age. This suggests that by improving physical activity levels in older adults, it may be possible to significantly lower health care costs [3].

Furthermore, older adults who engaged in intermediate and high levels of physical activity had lower health care utilization and expenditures compared to those with low levels of physical activity.

The benefits of physical activity extend beyond the individual to society as a whole. Cost savings from the improvements in health and reduced demand for healthcare services are likely to cover the costs of a well-designed exercise program. Therefore, promoting regular physical activity among older adults is not just a question of 'how much physical activity do older adults need?' but also a significant public health and economic strategy.

Recommended Physical Activity Guidelines

To maintain health and wellness, it's crucial for older adults to engage in regular physical activity. Here, we will explore the recommended guidelines for aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities.

Aerobic Activity Recommendations

For substantial health benefits, older adults are advised to participate in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, or an equivalent combination of each per week. These recommendations are supported by multiple sources, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Moderate-intensity aerobic activities include brisk walking, while vigorous-intensity activities may involve running or jogging. It's encouraged to spread these activities throughout the week to avoid prolonged periods of inactivity.

Intensity Duration (per week)
Moderate 150 minutes
Vigorous 75 minutes
Combination Equivalent of both

Muscle-Strengthening Activities

Alongside aerobic activities, older adults should also engage in strengthening activities that involve all major muscle groups at least two days a week. These activities may include resistance training or body weight exercises.

Moreover, adults aged 65 years and older should incorporate activities to improve balance, such as standing on one foot.

Activity Frequency (per week)
Muscle-Strengthening 2 days
Balance Improving Variable

These guidelines serve as a basis for how much physical activity older adults need. However, the intensity and frequency of physical activity should be adjusted according to an individual's fitness level, health status, and personal preferences. Always consult with a healthcare provider before starting a new exercise regimen to ensure safety and appropriateness.

Current Physical Activity Trends Among Older Adults

A concerning trend in the current physical activity levels of older adults is that there is a general lack of the minimum recommended activity, impacting not only their health but also contributing to increased healthcare costs.

Lack of Minimum Recommended Activity

Relatively few older adults in the United States achieve the minimum amount of recommended physical activity. According to American Family Physician, it is estimated that 28 to 34 percent of adults aged 65 to 74 years are inactive. Furthermore, less than 40% of adults aged 65 years and older exercise routinely [5]. Over 38% of participants reported less than 30 minutes of moderate-vigorous physical activity in the previous week [5]. These statistics indicate a significant gap in reaching the recommended levels of physical activity among older adults.

Impact on Healthcare Costs

The implications of this lack of physical activity go beyond the individuals' health. The medical costs for inactive adults are substantially higher than for active adults and increase with age. This suggests that it may be possible to significantly lower healthcare costs by improving physical activity levels in older adults, as compared with any other age group [3].

Activity Level Healthcare Utilization and Expenditures
Low High
Intermediate Lower
High Lowest

Figures courtesy source

Older adults who engaged in intermediate and high levels of physical activity had lower healthcare utilization and expenditures compared to those with low levels of physical activity. This further emphasizes the need for strategies and interventions that encourage and support older adults in achieving the recommended levels of physical activity.

Health Benefits of Physical Activity

The question of 'how much physical activity do older adults need?' is not just about the quantity but also about the quality of life that such activity can bring. Regular physical activity has been associated with a myriad of health benefits, particularly for older adults.

Lower Risk of Depression

Being physically active has been shown to reduce the risk of depression in adults. A study published by American Family Physician highlighted that adults who exercised at least three times a week were much less likely to develop depression compared to non-exercisers. Regular physical activity can promote mental wellbeing by improving mood and reducing anxiety, thereby enhancing the overall quality of life.

Cognitive Function and Dementia Prevention

In addition to the mental health benefits, regular exercise can also contribute significantly to cognitive health. Regular physical activity in older adults has been associated with a lower risk of cognitive decline and dementia, including Alzheimer's disease. The American Family Physician study found that older individuals who were physically active were much less likely to develop dementia or Alzheimer disease.

Further, physical activity helps maintain good cardiovascular health, which is essential for brain health. Endurance exercise training can lead to improvements in resting and submaximal exercise heart rate, blood pressure, and stroke volume, emphasizing the importance of high-intensity training for the elderly.

Apart from the benefits to mental and cognitive health, regular physical activity also contributes to physical health. It has been associated with lower rates of all-cause mortality, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, and breast cancer.

Moreover, physical activity helps to reduce the risk of falls among older people. Exercise programs that include challenging balance activities for more than 3 hours per week have been shown to have a greater effect in reducing falls.

Physical activity also has economic benefits. Older adults who engage in intermediate and high levels of physical activity have been associated with lower healthcare utilization and expenditures compared to those with low levels of physical activity [4].

In summary, regular physical activity can greatly enhance the physical and mental health of older adults, contributing to better quality of life and reduced healthcare costs.

Strategies for Increasing Physical Activity

To address the question of 'how much physical activity do older adults need?', it's essential to understand that variety, duration, and intensity play a crucial role in designing an effective exercise regimen.

Variety in Aerobic Activities

Joint guidelines from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the American Heart Association recommend that older adults engage in a diverse range of aerobic physical activities throughout the week. These activities can include walking, swimming, cycling, or even dancing. They should last for at least 10 minutes at a time and should be performed at moderate or vigorous intensity, depending on the individual's physical capacity [3].

Duration and Intensity Recommendations

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), adults aged 18-64 and older adults aged 65 and above should aim for at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. They can also opt for an equivalent combination of both.

In addition to aerobic exercise, it's recommended that older adults also include strength and balance exercises in their routine to reduce the risk of falls and improve muscle mass. Strength training, in particular, has been shown to counteract skeletal muscle atrophy, a common issue among older adults due to aging and physical inactivity. This type of training can increase lean body mass, improve physical performance, and enhance daily living activities [6].

Age Group Exercise Type Duration
Adults (18-64 years) Moderate or vigorous aerobic activity 150 or 75 minutes per week
Older Adults (65 years and above) Moderate or vigorous aerobic activity 150 or 75 minutes per week

Data Source: NCBI Bookshelf

In cases where older adults cannot adhere to these guidelines due to chronic conditions, they should aim to be as active as their ability and conditions allow. It's important to note that any physical activity is better than none and can contribute to improved physical health and wellness. Always consult a healthcare provider before starting any new fitness regimen.

Supporting Physical Activity in Older Adults

To combat the lack of physical activity among older adults and promote a healthier lifestyle, the collective effort from the community and the promotion of healthy aging are crucial.

Community Involvement

Communities play a key role in supporting the physical activity needs of older adults. By doing so, they help delay, prevent, or manage chronic diseases, reduce the risk of premature death, and ultimately promote healthy aging.

Community-based programs and initiatives can provide resources and support for older adults to incorporate regular physical activity into their routine. These can range from fitness classes and walking groups to education programs that highlight the importance of physical activity for overall health.

The Midcourse Report released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services identified strategies to increase physical activity among older adults. It emphasized the involvement of various professionals and stakeholders and promoted the idea that staying active should be an easy and enjoyable choice for this demographic.

Promotion of Healthy Aging

Promoting healthy aging involves encouraging older adults to meet the recommended physical activity guidelines. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults aged 65 years and older engage in at least 150 minutes or more of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity and 2 days of muscle-strengthening physical activity each week. These activities provide substantial health benefits and assist in the prevention and management of chronic diseases [8].

Type of Activity Frequency Duration
Aerobic Physical Activity 5 days a week 150 minutes
Muscle-Strengthening Activity 2 days a week As per individual capacity

The Biden-Harris Administration has stressed the importance of older Americans staying physically active and expressed commitment to improving the health of all Americans, regardless of age, through supporting the guidelines for physical activity amongst older adults.

Despite the numerous benefits, 31 million adults aged 50 or older were inactive in 2014 (CDC), which emphasizes the importance of promoting physical activity among older adults. By working together, individuals, communities, and organizations can help to increase physical activity levels among older adults and support healthier aging.










Latest Posts

blog image

Luxury Rehab Services for High Net Worth Home Care

Discover luxury rehab services for high net worth home care, blending personalized medical care with exclusive amenities.

blog image

The Best Private Pay Home Care Provider

Discover the best private pay home care provider for superior elderly care. Affordable, flexible, and professional.

blog image

Supporting Emotional Needs in High Net Worth Home Care

Discover how to meet emotional needs in high net worth home care for a life of comfort and companionship.

blog image

Technology Trends in High Net Worth Home Care

Explore technology trends in high net worth home care, improving elderly lives through smart innovations.

blog image

Safety and Security in Celebrity Home Care

Explore safety and security in celebrity home care for the best protection and comfort of your loved ones.

blog image

The Growing Trend of Private Pay Home Care For Elderly

Explore the growing trend of private pay home care for elderly, its benefits, and future prospects.

blog image

Marketing Tips for Concierge Home Care Providers

Revamp your marketing for concierge home care providers with innovative strategies and proven tips.

blog image

Fame and Privacy in Celebrity Home Care

Explore the delicate balance of fame and privacy in celebrity home care, from design strategies to security.

blog image

Aging in Place with Concierge Home Care: The Ultimate Guide

Navigate aging in place with concierge home care. Discover personalized services for an enhanced quality of life.

blog image

Exclusive Services for High Net Worth Home Care

Discover exclusive services in high net worth home care, enhancing quality of life for the elderly.

blog image

A Comprehensive Stroke Care Plan for CDPAP Caregivers

Master stroke care with our comprehensive guide tailored for CDPAP caregivers. Enhance patient wellbeing today.

blog image

Essential Senior Fall Prevention Measures

Discover senior fall prevention strategies, from tailored exercises to home modifications, for safe living.

blog image

Causes and Remedies for Knee Pain in the Elderly

Explore causes and remedies for knee pain elderly experience. Empower your golden years with pain-free mobility.

blog image

Knee Pain in the Elderly: Differential Diagnosis Unveiled

Unravel the mystery of knee pain in the elderly and explore differential diagnosis methods.

blog image

Elderly Knee Pain with Relief Products

Discover revolutionary knee pain relief products for the elderly and transform their quality of life.

blog image

Optimal Treatment for Elderly Knee Pain

Explore effective knee pain elderly treatment options, from self-care to surgery, for a pain-free life.

blog image

Natural Home Remedies for Knee Pain in Old Age

Discover natural knee pain in old age home remedies for relief and improved mobility.

blog image

What Causes Knee Pain in Old Age?

Discover what causes knee pain in old age, preventive measures, and treatment options to ease your discomfort.

blog image

Essential Bathroom Safety for Seniors

Discover essential bathroom modifications for seniors! Enhance safety with grab bars, non-slip flooring, and more. Perfect for caregivers.

blog image

Does Medicaid Cover Dementia Care You Need?

Unravel the complexities of Medicaid's dementia care coverage. Know your benefits and how to apply.

blog image

Dementia Care Plan: Crafting a Personalized Plan for Elderly

Craft a personalized dementia care plan for quality elderly life. Learn about support services and resources.

blog image

Arm Exercises for Flabby Arms

Say goodbye to flabby arms with these effective workouts! Tone and strengthen your arms with bicep curls, tricep dips, and more.

blog image

Luxury Rehabilitation Centers in High Net Worth Home Care

Discover the luxury rehabilitation centers revolutionizing high net worth home care with tailored amenities.

blog image

Elevating Elderly Care: Discovering Personalized Care Plans in Concierge Home Care

Discover personalized care plans in concierge home care, providing tailored and comprehensive support for the elderly.

blog image

High Net Worth Home Care for the Discerning Elderly

Explore luxury living in high net worth home care, where exclusivity meets comfort for the discerning elderly.

blog image

Effective Marketing Strategies for Private Pay Home Care

Discover effective marketing strategies for private pay home care. Enhance your service with our insightful tips.

blog image

Responsibilities of a Home Health Caregiver

Discover the responsibilities of a home health caregiver, providing comfort and safety for your loved ones.

blog image

Discretion and Security in Celebrity Home Care

Explore discretion and security in celebrity home care for peace of mind and ultimate privacy.

blog image

Telemedicine Options for Remote Consultations in Home Care

Explore telemedicine options for remote consultations in home care. Embrace the future of healthcare today!

blog image

Private Chef Services for Dietary Needs in Celebrity Home Care

Dive into the world of private chef services, elevating celebrity home care with bespoke dietary solutions.

blog image

Promoting Independence in Celebrity Home Care

Discover how promoting independence in celebrity home care enhances well-being while ensuring privacy.

blog image

How to Find A Qualified Caregiver For Seniors

Discover how to find a qualified caregiver for seniors, ensuring peace of mind with trusted home care.

blog image

Providing for Unique Needs in High Net Worth Home Care

Explore unique needs in high net worth home care, featuring tailored services and specialized support.

blog image

Caregiver Contracts for Elderly Care

Discover the ins and outs of caregiver contracts for elderly care and how it impacts Medicaid eligibility.

blog image

Training And Certification For Senior Caregivers

Explore training and certification for senior caregivers, enhancing care quality and career prospects.

blog image

Importance of Personalized Care for Celebrities

Discover the importance of personalized care for celebrities, from wellness to personal branding.

blog image

Private Pay vs. Insurance-Based Services Explained

Navigate 'private pay vs. insurance-based services' in-home care for autism in NY and NJ.

blog image

Features of High Net Worth Home Care

Discover the exclusive features of high net worth home care, offering tailored, luxury services for your needs.

blog image

Why Do Knees Hurt as You Get Older?

Discover why knees hurt as you get older, and learn effective prevention and treatment strategies.

blog image

Worst Dog Breeds for Seniors

Discover the worst dog breeds for seniors and uncover safer, senior-friendly alternatives.

blog image

Effective Workout Routines for Flabby Arms

Say goodbye to flabby arms with effective workout routines! Tone and sculpt your arms with targeted exercises and full-body workouts.

blog image

Quotes on Taking Care of Elderly Parents

Find inspiration in taking care of elderly parents quotes, helping you navigate caregiving with love and patience.

blog image

Activities for Elderly Individuals at Home

Explore enriching activities for elderly people at home to boost physical fitness and mental sharpness.

blog image

Effective Communication with Seniors

Unlock the secrets of effective communication with seniors for improved health and stronger bonds.

blog image

Senior Health and Wellness Tips

Unlock senior health and wellness tips for a vibrant life in your golden years. Stay active and engaged!

blog image

Financial Planning for Retirement

Master financial planning for retirement. Secure a bright future with strategic budgeting and savings tips.

blog image

Essential Health Insurance for Senior Citizens

Discover essential health insurance for senior citizens. Safeguard your well-being and secure peace of mind today.

blog image

Senior Citizen Care Guide

Find out how to enhance golden years with this comprehensive senior citizen care guide.

blog image

Independent Living for the Elderly

Explore the benefits of independent living for elderly, from increased autonomy to improved wellbeing.

blog image

Aging in Place Resources

Discover aging in place resources for home care, health management, and financial assistance.

blog image

Mental Health Support for the Elderly

Unearth effective strategies for enhancing mental health support for the elderly. Let's break the stigma!

blog image

Senior Transportation Options

Discover the best senior transportation options, from local services to specialized programs for independence.

blog image

Tailored Estate Management Solutions in High Net Worth Home Care

Discover tailored estate management solutions for high net worth home care, elevating luxury living.

blog image

Confidentiality Agreements and Privacy Policies in Celebrity Home Care

Delve into the world of celebrity home care: confidentiality agreements, privacy policies, and security revealed!

blog image

Legal Consultation Services in High Net Worth Home Care

Discover expert legal consultation services for high net worth home care, wealth management, and security.

blog image

Private Transportation Services in Concierge Home Care

Explore the seamless pairing of concierge home care and private transportation services for optimal recovery.

blog image

Specialized Caregiver Training Programs in Concierge Home Care

Dive into specialized caregiver training programs in concierge home care – enhance skills and transform lives.

blog image

Technology Solutions for Remote Caregiving

Explore how technology solutions for remote caregiving are transforming health outcomes and caregiver efficiency.

blog image

Educational Resources for Caregivers in Private Pay Home Care

Boost your caregiving with our guide to key educational resources for caregivers in private pay home care.

blog image

Concierge Medicine Partnerships in High Net Worth Home Care

Discover concierge medicine partnerships in high net worth home care for tailored, exclusive services.

blog image

Coordination of Home Maintenance Services in Home Care

Master the coordination of home maintenance services in home care; save time, reduce stress, and ensure quality.

blog image

Assisted Living vs Skilled Nursing: Choosing the Right Care

Navigate 'assisted living vs skilled nursing' with confidence. Choose the best care for your loved ones today.

blog image

Daily Dementia Care Plan for Caregivers [Template]

Master dementia care with our comprehensive plan template. Tailored to meet the unique needs of your loved ones.

blog image

Palliative Care Options in Celebrity Home Care

Explore palliative care options in celebrity home care, their benefits, and how they shape patient outcomes.

blog image

Hospice Care Facts & Statistics

Unraveling hospice care facts & statistics: Explore utilization, benefits, and common misconceptions surrounding end-of-life care.

blog image

Ultimate Guide to Private Pay Home Care

Navigate the world of private pay home care with our ultimate guide, from costs to state-specific considerations.

blog image

Live-In Caregivers for Elderly

Discover how live-in caregivers for elderly make a profound difference in health, safety and relationship dynamics.

blog image

Common Disease of the Elderly: Mental Health Issues

Explore mental health issues in the elderly, understand risk factors, and learn strategies for improvement.

blog image

Managing Medication Regimens in Home Care

Master managing medication regimens in home care with our comprehensive guide. Safety and adherence made easy!

blog image

Home Modifications for Accessibility in Private Pay Home Care

Explore how home modifications for accessibility in private pay home care enhance safety and independence.

blog image

Personal Security Services in High Net Worth Home Care

Explore the importance of personal security services in high net worth home care for ultimate protection.

blog image

Transportation for Social Outings in Home Care

Explore the importance of transportation for social outings in home care and navigate your options effectively.

blog image

Evolution of Concierge Home Care Models

Explore the evolution of concierge home care models - a revolution in personalized, quality healthcare.

blog image

Empowering Clients Through Education in Home Care

Discover how empowering clients through education in home care fosters independence and improves health outcomes.

blog image

Managing Chronic Conditions in Celebrity Home Care

Discover top strategies for managing chronic conditions in celebrity home care. Optimal health, made glamorous!

blog image

Assistance with Household Management in Home Care

Discover the transformational benefits of assistance with household management in home care.

blog image

Respite Care Services in Private Pay Home Care

Explore respite care services in private pay home care. Understand costs, benefits, and how to access them.

blog image

Meeting Modern Family Needs with Concierge Home Care

Explore how concierge home care meets modern family needs, offering personalized, multi-disciplinary care solutions.

blog image

Addressing Loneliness in Private Pay Home Care

Discover effective strategies for addressing loneliness in private pay home care, for a healthier, happier life.

blog image

Creating Personalized Care Plans for Private Pay Clients

Demystify creating personalized care plans for private pay clients for optimal health outcomes.

blog image

Innovative Therapies in High Net Worth Home Care

Discover innovative therapies in high net worth home care, revolutionizing personalized wellness strategies.

blog image

Uncovering the Benefits of 24/7 Concierge Services

Discover the transformative benefits of 24/7 concierge home care for enhanced quality of life and well-being.

blog image

Technology in Modern Celebrity Home Care

Discover how technology in modern celebrity home care is revolutionizing safety, privacy, and convenience.

blog image

Ensuring Privacy in Celebrity Home Care

Master strategies for ensuring privacy in celebrity home care. Safeguard trust, data, and legal boundaries.

blog image

Luxury Amenities in High Net Worth Home Care

Unveil the world of luxury amenities in high net worth home care, from spa-like retreats to elite medical care.

blog image

Concierge Home Care for Affluent Families

Discover the benefits of concierge home care for affluent families, offering personalized, top-tier services.

blog image

Enhancing Quality of Life with Private Pay Home Care

Explore how enhancing quality of life with private pay home care offers personalized, flexible solutions.

blog image

Tailored Solutions in Concierge Home Care

Discover tailored solutions in concierge home care, enhancing medical assistance with a personalized approach.

blog image

Questions for Choosing Home Care for Celebrities

Essential questions for choosing home care for celebrities - ensuring tailored, secure, and discrete services.

blog image

Luxury Home Care for High Net Worth Individuals

Discover luxury home care for high net worth individuals, blending personalized, high-tech, and wellness-focused services.

blog image

Why is Geriatric Care in High Demand?

Unveiling the rising demand for geriatric care. Explore the reasons behind the silver tsunami and its impact on healthcare.

blog image

Assisted Living vs Memory Care: What You Need to Know

Navigate 'assisted living vs memory care' for your loved ones. Understand the options to make informed decisions.

blog image

Assisted Living Facilities that Accept Medicaid

Discover what assisted living facilities accept Medicaid and navigate eligibility requirements with ease.

blog image

Affordable Senior-Living Apartments for Seniors: Exploring Income-Based Living Options

Explore affordable senior living apartments based on income. Discover benefits, eligibility, and government programs.

blog image

Choosing the Best Independent Living Communities for Retirement

Find your perfect retirement independent living communities with our guide to amenities, costs, and more.

blog image

What's Assisted Living All About? Unveiling the Benefits

Unravel 'whats assisted living' with our guide covering benefits, costs, services, and future trends.

blog image

Assisted Living vs Long Term Care Demystified

Discover crucial insights on assisted living vs long term care to make an informed decision for your loved ones.

blog image

Elderly Nutritional Needs: Essential Nutrients & Dietary Recommendations

Empower aging with knowledge! Discover essential elderly nutritional needs for robust health and well-being.

blog image

Fitness Options for Seniors Near Me

Discover 'fitness for seniors near me' - your guide to tailored workouts, balance exercises, and wellness classes.

blog image

Dementia Care Strategies: Empowering Elders

Master dementia care strategies and empower your elders. Understand diagnosis, treatment, and daily living tips.