Physical activity for health and vitality
Physical activity recommendation for over 65-year-olds encapsulates the sufficient weekly amount of physical activity for older people in terms of health and provides tips for increasing physical exercise in everyday life.
The 65+ recommendation differs from the recommendation for 18–64-year-olds in that it highlights the roles of muscle strength and balance, which have a particular effect on functional mobility, fall prevention and surviving in everyday-life. All the more, the recommendation emphasizes the diverse nature of physical activity and aims to increase exercise that contributes to performance and functional ability.
Picture 1. Weekly physical activity recommendation for over 65-year-olds.
Diverse physical activity for health and functional ability — even short bouts are beneficial
The core of the 65+ recommendation consists of the following points:
- Muscle strenghtening, balance and flexibility activities should be practiced at least twice a week.
- Moderate physical activities that increases your heart rate should be performed at least 2 hours 30 minutes per week. The same health benefits can be achieved by increasing the intensity of your activity from moderate to vigorous, in which case the duration should be at least 1 hour 15 minutes per week.
- Light physical activity as often as possible.
- Different combinations of the above-mentioned categories of physical activity are the best way to advance health and functional ability.
The 10-minute-bout requirement has been removed from the updated recommendation. This means that even a couple of minutes of physical activity at a time counts and is good for your health.
Physical activity recommendation for over 65-year-olds addresses the role of light physical activity which, according to contemporary research, also has health-advancing impacts particularly for those who are physically inactive. Light physical activity e.g. lowers your blood sugar and lipid levels, improves circulation and increases joint and muscular flexibility.
Picture 2. The upper part of the weekly physical activity recommendation for over 65 year-olds.
Muscle strengthening, balance and flexibility activities
at least two times a week
Use your large muscle groups and challenge your balance. Combine exercise with stretching.
Move your way, e.g. gym training, group or home exercise, yoga or dance.
Moderate physical activity
at least 2 hours 30 minutes per week
Any activity that increases your heart rate is beneficiary.
Choose e.g. dance or nordic walking.
Physical activity is moderate if you can talk despite shortness of breath.
Vigorous physical activity
at least 1 hour 15 minutes per week
You will achieve the same health benefits as mentioned above if you increase the intensity of your activity.
Choose your way, e.g. cycling, water sports or climbing stairs.
Physical activity is vigorous if talking is difficult due to shortness of breath.
Light physical activity
as often as possible
Every step counts: housework, outdoor exercise, grocery shopping and other daily activities.
Depending on the situation, choose e.g. going for walks, walking the dog or yard work.
Balancing rest and exercise
One should take breaks from sedentary behaviour every day, as often as possible.
In addition to physical activity, the updated recommendation takes sleeping into account. Sufficient sleep and exercise have a significant effect on one’s health, and the impact of sleep on one’s well-being is notable. The updated recommendation for over 65-year-olds pays more attention to well-being as a whole.
Picture 3. The lower part of the weekly physical activity recommendation for over 65 year-olds.
Breaks to sedentary behaviour
Exercising activates your muscles, reduces the strain on your body and enhances the well-being of your musculoskeletal system.
Depending on the situation, choose e.g. taking pauses in sedentary behaviour, working in a standing position or engaging in break exercise.
Adequate sleep is important. During sleep your brain works to structure and store information and your body restores.
When you wake up refreshed, you know you have slept enough.
Move your way – Every day
- Physical activity refreshes your mind.
- You meet friends.
- Your memory improves.
- You sleep better.
Physical activity maintains your ability to move and fuction
- Helps in daily activities
- Prevents falls and fall-related injuries
- Prevents, treats and rehabilitates several illnesses
Underlying research data
2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Scientific Report . Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2018.
Last updated: 4.2.2021