Guidelines for adults (aged 65 and older)

We are living longer nowadays and we want to stay healthy and fit to continue doing the things we love - meeting our friends, walk to the shops, playing with our grandchildren, travelling to new countries. 

Did you know that if you are aged 65 years or older, then you should be aiming to be active daily. Our short video below describes the amount of activity required to achieve health benefits. It's never too late to adopt and benefit from, a more physically active lifestyle.  

Adults aged 65 and older, who are generally fit and have no health conditions that limit their mobility, should try to be active daily and should:

  • Do at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as cycling or walking every week.
  • Moderate activity will raise your heart rate and make you breathe faster and feel warmer.
  • For most, moderate activity includes walking, ballroom dancing, water aerobics, going for a bike ride on a level surface, pushing a lawn mower, volleyball, canoeing, or doubles tennis.
  • Daily chores such as shopping, cooking or housework don't count towards your 150 minutes, because the effort isn’t enough to raise your heart rate, but they are important to break up periods of sitting.
  • Do muscle strengthening exercises two or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms). It is important for movement, building strong bones, maintaining a healthy weight, and regulating blood sugar and blood pressure.
  • Examples of muscle-strengthening activities include digging, lifting and carrying while gardening carrying groceries, circuit training, step aerobics, exercises using exercise bands, weight machines, hand-held weights, yoga, tai chi, pilates.
  • Older adults at risk of falls should do exercises to improve balance and co-ordination on at least two days a week. Examples include yoga, tai chi and backward and sideways walking, and walking on heels and toes standing from a sitting position, standing on one foot.
  • Vigorous exercise counts as double, so 75 minutes of vigorous exercise has similar health benefits to 150 minutes of moderate exercise.
  • Vigorous activities include jogging, aerobics, cycling or swimming fast, singles tennis, football, uphill hiking and energetic dancing.
  • Vigorous exercise makes you breathe hard and fast. You won’t be able to say more than a few words without taking a breath.

Quick Question - how long do you spend sitting?

Here’s a question: If you sleep an average of 8 hours per day, what are you doing for the remaining 15.5 hours of the day?

  • Sitting behind a wheel?
  • Sitting at while on your tablet, computer, phone?
  • Sitting watching tv?
  • Sitting while you eat?

Irish people spend on average 5.3 hours sitting each workday.

Use our sitting calculator to estimate how long you sit for each day.

A number of studies have found that people who sit for long periods of time have an increased risk of certain diseases, including diabetes and are more likely to suffer from cardiovascular diseases.

But it doesn’t have to be all bad news. There is a simple solution ....

Sit less and get up, get out and get active.

‘I pretty much spent my whole adult life in a car, in a chair at the office, or on a couch – being active was for other, more energetic and possibly slightly annoying people.  I was also very overweight, so even the thought of trying to get into any sort of stretchy clothing and move around in front of people was pretty scary - and even to my slight shame I really never did anything much to get out and run around with my son when he was small.  In my mid 30s I sort of got it together weightwise, and on the advice of the Weight Watchers lady, I just started to walk 30 minutes a day.  It sounds very little – but it was amazing how much of a difference it made to how I felt, and how much it helped me to lose weight. It’s hard to explain how starting to be even a little bit active changes you very quickly, even though it’s really hard at the beginning, and you often have to force yourself – really force yourself!  It’s hard when even the little bit you are doing makes you break out in a sweat. It’s hard when you make the HUGE mistake of comparing yourself to others. It’s very hard if you, like I did, spend too much time telling yourself that you’re ‘very unfit’ and ‘this isn’t making any difference’.  But then - your body makes progress remarkably fast – because I think really, deep down, our bodies want to move. We are born wriggly, and you can’t stop most little kids from running around.  Despite having sat on the sidelines for pretty much all my life, feeling pretty awful about how I looked and how unfit I was, just walking for 30 minutes a day changed how I feel forever. I am now very proud of being a pretty active person – even though I am still not a skinny one! I now cycle to work and home again every day, so the exercise doubles as transport, it’s a feeling of freedom from traffic, from stale air in the car – I get to see the city close up, I feel clearer headed, and it also makes a huge difference to my mood and how I react to the normal ups and down of the week. I still don’t look great in stretchy clothes but nothing dents the happiness and even confidence you can create from minding yourself and letting your body do what it wants – deep, deep down underneath the sofa cushions.’

Fidelma, Limerick.