Physical Activity in Elderly

Aging is a multifactorial irreversible process associated with significant decline in muscle mass and neuromuscular functions. One of the most efficient methods to counteract age-related changes in muscle mass and function is physical activity. Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it.

The world population is getting older and the percentage of elderly people is continually increasing. It is well known that aging causes gradual changes in the organism, which leads to loss of function, weakness, disease and death. All these negative changes lead to difficulty of performing daily activities.

One of the main questions regarding elderly is: Can we stop the negative changes? No, we cannot stop it, but we can slow down the decrease of physical fitness and functional capacity. We know that with physical activity, balanced nutrients are the most effective ways to counteract the decline of functional capacity related to aging.

Benefits of Physical Activity

Research has documented the benefits of maintaining an exercise program into the later years, using resistance exercise and aerobic training, ideally in combination in order to improve cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, and functional health, and reduce the risk of NCD.


Physical activities have lower rates of all cause mortality, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer and breast cancer, a higher level of cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, healthier body mass and composition. Epidemiological studies show a strong inverse relationship between physical activity, health and all cause of mortality. Higher level of physical activity are associated with around 40-50% lower all-cause, cardiovascular disease and cancer mortality rates compared with women with lower activity levels.

Functional Independence

Both muscle strength and aerobic fitness have been strongly linked to functional independence. Aerobic training alone or aerobic training combined with resistance training have been shown to result in improved physical function in older adults without disabilities. In some groups of people with chronic health conditions there are indications of positive effects of increased physical activity and exercise. Physical activity exhibit higher level of functional health, a lower risk of falling, and better cognitive function; have reduced the risk of moderate to severe functional limitation.

Recommended Levels of Physical Activity

  1. Older adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week. Or at least 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity.
  2. Older adults, with poor mobility, should perform physical activity to enhance balance and prevent falls on 3 or more days per week.
  3. Muscle-strengthening activities, involving major muscle groups, should be done on 2 or more days a week.
  4. If older adults cannot perform the recommended amounts of physical activity due to health conditions, they should be as physically active as possible based on their conditions.
  5. Older adults with health conditions and disabilities such as stroke, brain injury, Parkinson disease and other neurological conditions, exercises should be carried out under the guidance of physiotherapist to ensure the safety of the individuals.

Here in Healthworks, our physiotherapist will perform a thorough assessment and design a comprehensive exercise program for you. If there are any queries regarding this article, feel free to contact us at 018-982 8539/ 03-6211 7533 or drop us an email at