Physical activity and exercise

In January 2013 the Ministry of Health released the Guidelines on Physical Activity for Older People. To view a copy of the Guidelines visit www.health.govt.nz.

Physical activity for older people (aged 65 years and over)

Physical activity has many health benefits. Regular physical activity:

  • increases muscle strength, flexibility, balance and coordination
  • helps to reduce the risk of premature death
  • helps to reduce the risk of falls
  • helps to prevent and manage health conditions like stroke, heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, certain cancers, obesity and depression
  • enhances sleep, wellbeing and quality of life
  • increases social interaction.

Spend more time being physically active and less time sitting down

Daily activities such as housework and washing the car are great as they help get you up and moving, contribute to your overall physical activity and reduce the time you are sitting down. Even small amounts of physical activity can have positive benefits on your health.

Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity that makes your breathing and heart rate increase (aerobic activity), five days a week.

Moderate

Moderate-intensity activities cause a slight but noticeable increase in breathing and heart rate. You can chat during moderate-intensity activity.

Vigorous

Vigorous-intensity activities significantly raise breathing and heart rate. You are not able to chat during vigorous-intensity activity.

Aerobic activities that benefit older people

Moderate-intensity aerobic activities

Cycling

Golf

Brisk walking

Housework

Kapa haka

Kaumātua line dancing

Stair climbing

Swimming

Walking

Playing with grandchildren

Waka ama

Water aerobics


Vigorous-intensity aerobic activities

Walking uphill

Heavy digging

Fast lane swimming

Cycling (more than 16 km/h)

Fast dancing 


Resistance activities

Carrying shopping

Chair raises

Cycling

Golf

Hill walking

Knee lifts

Modified tai chi

Stair climbing

Swimming

Waka ama

Water aerobics

Weight training


Flexibility activities

Ankle stretches

Bowls

Gardening

Golf

Housework

Kilikiti

Modified tai chi

Otago Exercise Programme

Petanque

Pilates

Stretching

Washing the car

Yoga


Balance activities

Bowls

Chair raises

Golf

Cycling (less than 14 km/h)

Modified tai chi

Otago Exercise Programme

Pétanque (French bowls)

Pilates

Poi toa

Social dancing

Waka ama

Standing on one leg

Yoga

Speak to your doctor before starting or increasing physical activity

To reduce the risk of injury, older adults who are physically inactive or sedentary or who have one or more health conditions should seek advice from an appropriate health practitioner before starting or increasing levels of activity. Start off slowly and build up to the recommended daily physical activity levels. Aim to do three sessions of flexibility and balance activities, and two sessions of resistance activities per week.

Recommendations for older people who are frail

  • Limit sedentary behaviour and be as physically active as possible.
  • Consult an appropriate health practitioner before starting or increasing physical activity.
  • Start off slowly and build up to recommended physical activity levels.
  • Consult an appropriate health practitioner before starting or increasing physical activity.
  • Aim for a mixture of low-impact aerobic, resistance, balance and flexibility activities.
  • Talk to your doctor about whether vitamin D tablets are beneficial

Be active safely

  • Wear appropriate clothing and footwear.
  • Wear hats and sunscreen outdoors in the summer.
  • Use safety equipment such as bike helmets.
  • Choose safe environments such as well-lit streets, open parks and indoor facilities.
  • Make sensible choices about when and where to be active and who to be active with.

For information on exercise groups in your area visit our Physical Activity and Exercise Community Notice Board Page. Age Concern North Shore publishes a Calendar of Activities with groups and clubs in the North Shore area that hold regular exercise groups.

You could also visit meetups.com.

Meetup

The world's largest network of local groups. Meetup makes it easy for anyone to organise a local group or find one already meeting up face-to-face.

Age Concern New Zealand has published an Information Sheet on Physical Activity in Later Life. Click here to view.

Websites of interest

Find your nearest Age Concern