How much exercise is enough?

No matter your age, keeping your body fit and strong is important in maintaining your overall health.

How much exercise is enough?

Getting enough exercise, no matter how old you are, will hold you in good stead throughout your life. The longer that you can keep your body fit and strong, the longer you can expect to be active during your older years. Some exercise is always better than no exercise.

There are two kinds of exercise that you should aim to do regularly:

  • Cardio (aerobic): keeps your heart healthy and your weight down.
  • Strength training: helps you to build and maintain strong muscles and bones.

But how much exercise is enough for you?

Well, it depends on your age, level of fitness and overall general health. For Australian adults aged 65 or older, who are mostly fit and have no mobility-limiting health conditions, these daily exercise suggestions are a good guide:

It is recommended that Australian adults 65 years and above should do:

  • At least two-and-a half hours (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise every week and whole-body muscle strengthening activities of all muscle groups; legs, hips, beck, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms, on two or more days per week.
    Moderate-intensity: Exercises that will make you break a light sweat, such as cycling, yoga or fast walking.

  • One hour and fifteen minutes (75 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise every week and whole-body muscle strengthening activities of all muscle groups; legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms, on two or more days per week.
    Vigorous-intensity: Exercises that will cause your heart-rate and breathing increase and make you sweat a lot, such as running, high intensity interval training, or a hard game of tennis.

In muscle strengthening activity remember it’s about quality over quantity, so aim for 8 to 12 repetitions of each exercise, and only lift as much weight as your body can, while still maintaining proper lifting technique.

Muscle strengthening doesn’t always mean using weights, either. You can also use your own body weight to strengthen your muscles, such as push-ups and squats.

To find out more about physical activity for older adults visit Health Direct.


    To make a comment, please register or login
    Nan Norma
    8th Jan 2015
    This is very difficult with you have respiratory problems.
    8th Jan 2015
    Difficult but not impossible. ;-}
    8th Jan 2015
    I have degenerative disc problems in my lower back plus a hip replacement and sciatica in my other leg-can walk only with a walking stick, and am very happy if I can manage 500m. I swim 500m 5 times a week, and walk in water to try to strengthen my legs.

    Amelia Theodorakis, can you recommend any exercises I can do that are weight bearing, as I know the swimming does not count.

    I think there may be quite a few of your readers who have mobility problems but still ant to keep fit.
    8th Jan 2015
    Zedi given your medical problems I would strongly encourage you to get your GP to give you a referral to an Exercise Physiologist. They are highly qualified (more so than GPs) to give you exercise advice. I believe you can get 5 visits on medicare - much like going to a physio - if your GP refers you.

    I have had personal experience in working with an Exercise Physiologist and trust me they are worth their weight in gold. They are not just Personal Trainers. They are specifically trained to work with chronic diseases and pain, musculoskeletal issues and rehabilitation.

    Good luck and I applaud you for wanting to keep up the fitness. Exercise/activity really can help almost all conditions and ease painful mobility problems.
    8th Jan 2015
    All very interesting . Thanks
    Our parents and grandparents did not go to Helth Clubs/Gyms neither they had Personal trainers: however, if they had an "active" lifestyle: e.g. doing things, taking care of a garden/orchard and more: well, they kept pretty fit. One can cause more damage by doing "more" than actually "less". If we add the ENJOYMENT element in our exercises, then, one looks forward to it (it applies to all ages and not only to physical activities): swimming is probably the best choice: acqua exercises work very well and, there is no impact due to the fact we are in the water. Any MODERATE EXERCISE WILL DO together with keeping our minds alive , a blance diet, plenty of love and laughter and stop over-worrying . Sante! about everything
    8th Jan 2015
    I agree MILA, as long as the exercise makes you breath heavily and your heart pound a bit - speaking should be difficult, and that muscles are challenged e.g. carrying the shopping home.

    One element missing from the article is flexibility. We need to retain our range of movement (flexibility) as we get older just as much as aerobic capacity and muscle strength.

    The best exercise is the one that you do consistently. And that is one you enjoy not the one you see as a chore. :-)
    8th Jan 2015
    Running is not good for knees, especially those of seniors.
    8th Jan 2015
    If they have been running for years they can continue if they want. It is not recommended for those who have not done it before. But there are many alternatives to running. No excuses.
    24th Feb 2017
    KSS, I'm sure some orthopedic surgeons would not agree with you. I know of 2 patients who were told, walk don't run. They had been running for about 35 years. Running jars your feet and legs. If you are running on concrete, pavers or bitumen you need to keep checking the surface. It is often uneven. Bikewayswalking paths are often uneven, deteriorated to the point they are cracked or broken by tree roots. Pavers need constant maintenance to keep them level - they ruts in them --watch out even more if you are pushing a baby or toddler in a stroller including a good quality 4 wheel one. Concrete paths where is trees can be up 2.5cm difference in height at joins or the slabs themselves may be cracked deep enough for there to be an actual gap. I know a lady who tripped on one and literally smashed her jaw. That strip had been pushed up by gum tree roots. Why our council planted gum trees I will never know.
    8th Jan 2015
    I do yoga and stretches every day, go for a walk rain,hail (well maybe not) and shine, started jogging 3 minutes (trying to build up) and have now started a quick bike ride around the block, I do all this everyday, probably only adds up to an hour or a tad more. It gets easier and easier, just have to start small and build up. I am 53 so there is still time for me I hope to get fitter.
    9th Jan 2015
    What a pity the cyclists pictured with the article are not wearing helmets.
    10th Jan 2015
    Would you say the same about an Indian in a turban? They are probably riding on private property so that is not illegal is it?
    11th Jan 2015
    Whether it is legal or not is not the issue .. it simply makes good sense to wear one, especially as we are talking about health issues.

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