Physical Activity Recommendations for Health for Older Australians

These recommendations were developed in reference to the existing National Physical Activity Guidelines for Adults published by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, namely:

1. Think of movement as an opportunity, not an inconvenience,
2. Be active every day in as many ways as you can,
3. Put together at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most, preferably all, days,
4. If you can, also enjoy some regular, vigorous activity for extra health and fitness.
Older people: For the purposes of this document the term “older people” primarily refers to those aged over 65 years, and over 55 years for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. However, we are all different and these guidelines could apply to other people depending on their situation.

Moderate level physical activities: Physical activity at a level that causes your heart to beat faster and some shortness of breath, but that you can still talk comfortably while doing activities. (Glasgow et al, 2005). E.g. walking, swimming and bicycle riding.

Vigorous physical activities: Physical activity at a level that causes your heart to beat a lot faster and shortness of breath that makes talking difficult between deep breaths (Glasgow et al, 2005). E.g. running/jogging, squash, water aerobics and tennis.

General advice when performing physical activities

• Consider physical activities as opportunities for fun with a partner, friends or family members.
• Eating healthy nutritious food in conjunction with being physically active will help to obtain the best health outcomes.
• Drink water during and after physical activity to avoid dehydration.
• A short period of warm up exercises/muscle stretching at the start and at the end of physical activity will help the body adjust to starting or finishing activities that place a physical demand on the body.
• Include some outdoors physical activity, although where possible keep this to a minimum in the hottest part of the day.
• Use appropriate safety and protection equipment to maximise safety and minimise risk of injury during physical activity, for example, use supportive footwear for walking, and a helmet for bicycle riding.

Recommendations on physical activity for health for older Australians

Recommendation 1
Older people should do some form of physical activity, no matter what their age, weight, health problems or abilities.

It is never too late to start becoming physically active. “Too old” or “too frail” is no excuse. In fact, older people become sick or disabled from not undertaking physical activity.

Recommendation 2
Older people should be active every day in as many ways as possible, doing a range of physical activities that incorporate fitness, strength, balance and flexibility.

Think of things like housework, walking to the shops, gardening, raking leaves, vacuuming, lawn bowls, golf, dancing, tai chi, exercise classes and hydrotherapy.

Recommendation 3
Older people should accumulate at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most, preferably all, days.

Bouts as short as 10 minutes count towards your 30 minutes.

Recommendation 4
Older people who have stopped physical activity, or who are starting a new physical activity, should start at a level that is easily manageable and gradually build up the recommended amount, type and frequency of activity.

Build up over several weeks or months to the recommended level.

Recommendation 5
Older people who continue to enjoy a lifetime of vigorous physical activity should carry on doing so in a manner suited to their capability into later life, provided recommended safety procedures and guidelines are adhered to.

See the following website for more details, as well as guidelines for the elderly.

Consult one of the physiotherapists at Rathmines Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Centre for advice on the best types of physical activity for you. Ask at one of your appointments or call 4975-1622 for an appointment.