Keeping active

Keeping active is important throughout life but particularly as you get older as it has many important health benefits:

  • Reduces the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes
  • Helps to maintain healthy lungs
  • Strengthens your bones and promotes healthy joints
  • Helps to maintain a healthy weight
  • Improves balance, coordination and reduces the risk of falls

In addition to improving your physical health, keeping active can also improve your mental well-being by improving self-confidence, sleep and even memory. It can also reduce the feeling of loneliness as many of the activities are great for meeting new people.

The latest UK physical activity guidelines, published in July 2011, outline the amount of physical activity older adults (65 years and over) should be doing to benefit their health.

The current guidelines are:

  • Older adults who participate in any amount of physical activity gain some health benefits, including maintenance of good physical and cognitive function. Some physical activity is better than none, and more physical activity provides greater health benefits.
  • Older adults should aim to be active daily. Over a week, activity should add up to at least 150 minutes (2 1/2 hours) of moderate intensity activity in bouts of 10 minutes or more - one way to approach this is to do 30 minutes on at least 5 days a week.
  • For those who are already regularly active at moderate intensity, comparable benefits can be achieved through 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity spread across the week or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity.
  • Older adults should also undertake physical activity to improve muscle strength on at least two days a week.
  • Older adults at risk of falls should incorporate physical activity to improve balance and co-ordination on at least two days a week.
  • All older adults should minimise the amount of time spent being sedentary (sitting) for extended periods.

Remember to speak to your GP before doing any exercise for the first time or after a long period of inactivity.

Visit our Activities for older people page and Leisure centres pages for more information.