Care Partner Information Sheet

Physical Activity

Physical activity is very important for everyone, even older adults. Physical activity keeps our muscles, joints, and everything inside of us working better. It also helps people sleep better, and it can improve our mood.

It helps older adults to be stronger, able to move easily, and helps prevent falls. It can help them stay healthy, be independent, and live in their own home for as long as possible. All older adults need a mix of activity that increases the heart rate and strengthens muscle.

All healthy older adults should follow one of the following exercise plans:
 
Option 1:
2 hours 30 minutes per week:
Moderate activity that increases the heart rate (aerobic activity), such as brisk walking.
2 or more days per week:
Muscle strengthening exercises for all muscle groups (back, legs, hips, chest, abs, arms)
 
Option 2:
1 hour and 15 minutes per week:
Vigorous activity that increases the heart rate (aerobic activity), such as   running.
2 or more days per week:
Muscle strengthening exercises for all muscle groups (back, legs, hips, chest, abs, arms)

It is important to wear comfortable clothes and shoes that fit well.  For safety, it is a good idea to wear a medical alert pendant and an ID bracelet with an emergency contact's phone number. It is also a good idea to pay attention to the weather. Don't exercise outside if it is too hot or too cold. Always drink lots of water before and after exercise.

Some older adults are very active and healthy.  Others are just starting to become active. Here are some beginning exercises that are safe for older adults to try at home. Start with one set, then increase as the person gets stronger.

Toe Stands

  • Hold the back of a sturdy chair and stand with feet hip width apart.
  • Lift your heels as much as possible, then bring them back to floor. 
  • Repeat this movement 10 times for one set. 
  • Rock back on your heels and lift your toes to stretch between sets.

Chair Sit to Stand to Sit

  • Sit on a sturdy chair and cross your arms on the chest. 
  • Rise from the chair to a fully up right position and then slowly return to a sitting position.
  • Repeat this movement 10 times for one set.
  • If needed, use an armrest to make this exercise easier.

Stair Steps 

  • Hold the handrail of a staircase for safety. Step up on a step one foot at a time.
  • Step down one foot at a time.
  • Repeat 10 times alternating the leading foot.
  • Rest and repeat another 10 times for one set.

Useful Websites 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 
National Institutes of Health 


Written by: Jane Mohler, NP-c, MPH, PhD, and Lisa O'Neill, MPH, University of Arizona Center on Aging