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Physical activity guidelines for older adults

While our bodies might change as we age, we can still get many benefits from being active.  And you can get these benefits without joining a gym or buying special gear.

You may be wondering how much activity to aim for, whether it’s safe for you to get active, and where to start.

Experts have looked at hundreds of studies to create the Australian guidelines for physical activity. Increasing your physical activity – even a little bit – can help you feel, function, and live better.

Remember to follow safety advice and check with your health professional before starting any new activity.

Benefits of physical activity for older adults

Getting or staying active in older adulthood has many benefits.

It supports good physical health

Physical activity can help to:

  • keep you independent and able to do everyday activities
  • improve your balance and prevent falls 
  • keep your heart, lungs and blood vessels healthy
  • strengthen bones and muscles
  • lower your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, bone problems, and some types of cancer
  • improve your flexibility
  • ease pain from conditions like arthritis
  • support a healthy weight.

It promotes mental health and wellbeing

Being active has benefits for your mind as well as your body. It can:

  • improve your mood and sense of wellbeing
  • prevent and ease symptoms of anxiety and depression
  • help you think, remember, concentrate and solve problems
  • help build your confidence
  • help you manage stress
  • give you more energy
  • improve your sleep.

It supports social connections

Getting active with others is a great way to stay connected and meet new people. Being socially connected supports your wellbeing, especially as you get older.

Joining others in physical activity can also help you stick to your plan and achieve your goals. You might like to try joining a walking group or meeting a friend for a group class or a bike ride.

Getting started with activity in older adulthood

Being more active can support a healthy body and mind, reduce your risk of many diseases and help to prevent falls.

Consider ways to include more activity in your everyday routine. You could try walking around the block or doing sit-to-stands from your chair during TV ad breaks. Or do some heel raises while you brush your teeth. If you’re unsure, check these simple exercise circuits with instructions.

Find group classes in your area with the Exercise directory for older adults.

Staying safe when getting active

If you haven’t been active recently, start slowly and build up gradually. You could start with 10 minutes once or twice a day and then after 2 weeks, build up to 15 minutes twice a day.

If you start to experience pain or discomfort while exercising, stop and seek medical advice.

Remember to wear comfortable clothes and supportive shoes. Drink plenty of water before, during and after exercising.

Our health and lifestyle checklist can help you find out if you may be at risk of having a fall.

If you have any concerns about your health, check with your GP before starting an exercise program. And if you’re unsure where to start, a physiotherapist or exercise physiologist can create a plan that’s right for you.

Learn more about getting started with physical activity.

How much activity to aim for

To get the most from being active, there are guidelines you can follow. The Australian physical activity and exercise guidelines for people aged 65 years and over recommend you aim for 30 minutes or more of moderate physical activity on most days (ideally every day).

You don’t have to do 30 minutes all at once. It’s fine to break this up into short amounts of movement throughout your day.

You’ll get extra benefits if you can do more than 30 minutes.

To best support a healthy mind and body, aim to include a mix of different types of activity each week.

Read the Australian physical activity and exercise guidelines for people aged 65 years and over.

Free programs to help you get active

Would you like some support to get active for a healthy mind and body?

Find programs and support for older adults.

The information on this page only provides general advice. Your needs may differ depending on your age, sex and health. To best understand your needs, talk to your doctor.


Department of Health and Aged Care (2021) For older Australians (65 years and over), DHAC, accessed 25 August 2022.

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