Exercise for the over 65s

Exercise for the over 65s

A lot of over 65s get it into their heads that they’re too old to take part in a range of different physical activity. Whether it is weight training, riding a bike or a Zumba class, there is always something you can do to help your fitness.

Physical activity is one of the best things you can do to help achieve longevity and health in older age. Exercise helps to build muscle, strengthen bones, protects your heart  and boosts your immune system.


The NHS has set up some really helpful guidelines for adults aged 65 and over. 

The advice below is based on adults that are generally fit and have no health conditions that limit their mobility.

Over 65s should try to do:

  • At least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as cycling or walking every week, and
  • Strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).


  • 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity such as running or a game of singles tennis every week and
  • Strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).


  • A mix of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity every week. For example, two 30 minute runs, plus 30 minutes of fast walking, equates to 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity and
  • Strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).

You should also try to break up long periods of sitting with light activity, as sedentary behaviour is now considered an independent risk factor for ill health.

Older adults with risks of falls, such as people with poor balance and weak legs, should work on co-ordination on at least two days a week. Examples include yoga, tai chi and dancing.

What are examples of moderate activity?

  • Walking
  • Water Aerobics
  • Ballroom and Line Dancing
  • Riding a Bike (on level ground or with a few hills)
  • Playing doubles tennis
  • Pushing a lawn mower

Moderate activity will raise your heart rate and make you breathe faster and feel warmer.  One way to tell if you’re working to a moderate level is if you can talk but not sing.

Cooking, shopping or housework doesn’t count towards your 150 minutes as they don’t get your heart rate up. You can use these to break up your periods of sitting.

What are examples of vigorous  activity?

  • Jogging or running
  • Aerobics
  • Swimming fast
  • Riding a bike fast or on hills
  • Singles tennis
  • Football
  • Hiking uphill
  • Energetic dancing
  • Martial arts

Vigorous activity makes your breathe hard and fast. At this level you shouldn’t be able to say more than a few words without pausing for breath.

What activities strengthen muscles?

Muscle strength is more important as you get older primarily for building and maintain healthy bones, all daily movement, regulating blood sugar and blood pressure plus maintaining a healthy weight.

To gain health benefits from strength exercises, you should do them to the point where you find it hard to complete another repetition.

There are many ways you can strengthen your muscles. This can be at home or in the gym.

Examples of muscle strengthening activities include:

  • Carrying or moving heavy loads, such as groceries
  • Activities that involve stepping and jumping, such as dancing
  • Heavy gardening, such as digging or shovelling
  • Exercises that use your body weight for resistance, such as push ups and sit-ups
  • Yoga
  • Lifting weights


5 week exercise plan to improve your strength and flexibility. For beginners try the NHS Strength & Flex

 Muscle-strengthening exercises are not an aerobic activity so you’ll need to do them in addition to your 150 minutes aerobic activity.

Some vigorous activity count as both an aerobic activity and a muscle strengthening activity such as:

  • Circuit training
  • Aerobics
  • Football
  • Rugby
  • Netball
  • Hockey
Our gym teams across the centres are happy to help with any advice you would like to help plan a fitness programme, nutrition or to simply show you some of the machines that you can use in the gym. Remember over 60's in Sandwell also get free swimming up to 1pm across our centres.  










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