Did you know that you don’t have to be an athlete to be active? Or that sitting all day is bad for you, even if you’re active enough the rest of the time? The Canadian Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines outline the amount and type of physical activity you need at every age and stage of life. And, for the first time, the new 24-hour Movement Guidelines for Children & Youth also include sleep. Following the guidelines will help reduce the risk of chronic disease, lead to a more focused mind, a stronger, fitter body, and all in all, a more enjoyable life.
Adults age 65 and older are encouraged to participate in a variety of physical activities that are enjoyable, safe, and get their bodies moving and hearts pumping. Regular movement can help older adults age well and maintain independence.
Physical Activity Guidelines
- To achieve health benefits, and improve functional abilities, adults aged 65 years and older should accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more.
- It is also beneficial to add muscle and bone-strengthening activities using major muscle groups, at least 2 days per week.
- Those with poor mobility should perform physical activities to enhance balance and prevent falls.
- More daily physical activity provides greater benefits.
Let’s Talk Intensity
Moderate-intensity physical activities will cause adults to sweat a little and to breathe harder. On a scale of 0 to 10 (with 10 being an absolute maximum effort and 0 being completely at rest), moderate activities are about a 5 or 6. While doing moderate-intensity activity adults should still be able to talk, but not sing along to their favourite song.
Vigorous-intensity physical activities will cause older adults to sweat and be out of breath. On a scale of 0 to 10 (with 10 being an absolute maximum effort and 0 being completely at rest), vigorous activities are about a 7 or 8. While doing vigorous activity teens shouldn’t be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath. Older adults should do as much vigorous activity as they can.
Moving Muscles and Building Bones
Muscle-strengthening activities are those that increase skeletal muscle strength, power, endurance and mass, such as strength training, resistance training and heavy gardening involving digging or shoveling.
Bone-strengthening activities produce an impact or tension force on the bones that promotes bone growth and strength. Jogging and lifting weights are examples of bone-strengthening activities.
What About Balance?
Static and dynamic balance exercises are designed to improve older adults’ ability to maintain their balance while walking on their own or in a crowd, in bad weather, while climbing up and down steps or opening heavy doors. Activities that improve balance include walking on uneven ground (e.g., unpaved areas, forest trails), Tai Chi and yoga.
What are the Proven Benefits?
Being active for at least 150 minutes per week can help older adults to:
- Maintain functional independence
- Maintain mobility
- Improve fitness
- Improve or maintain body weight
- Maintain bone health
- Maintain mental health and feel better
- Reduce the risk of chronic disease such as heart disease and high blood pressure
- Reduce the risk of premature death