Physical activity is one of the most important things an older adult can do for health. It can prevent or reduce your risk of health problems that seem to come with age, which include some of the diseases and conditions associated with brain health. It also helps you stay strong so that you can continue to do your day-to-day activities independently.
In fact, not doing physical activity can be bad for you, no matter your age or health condition.
Healthy Body, Healthy Brain
If you are 65 or older and generally fit, with no limiting health conditions, you can benefit from doing aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities each week using these guidelines:
- A combination of 2 hours and 30 minutes (150) minutes of moderate aerobic activity (such as brisk walking), with 2 or more days a week working all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms)
- A combination of 1 hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (such as jogging or running), with 2 or more days a week working all major muscle groups
- A balanced mix of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, with 2 or more days a week working all major muscle groups
Want to know more about the benefits of walking? Visit Step It Up! The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities.
Think! Work Your Brain!
Clinical trials have not proven that these types of activities will prevent Alzheimer’s disease, but they can be fun.
- Read books and magazines
- Play games
- Learn new things
- Take or teach a class
- Keep working, take a job (even if just a part-time job) or volunteer
- People who have meaningful activities, like volunteering, say they feel happier and healthier
- Social activities are linked to reduced risk for some health problems, including dementia
- Join in social and other programs through your Area Agency on Aging, a local senior center, or other community organizations
What Can You Do To Make a Difference Today?
Pick any one of the things listed above and do it. That's it. That's all you have to do to get started, and over time you can build on that first activity.
It's okay to think big, but aim small as you start:
- Take a 10-minute walk a few times a week, then add more time as the days or weeks go by
- Add a serving of vegetables or fruit each day, and switch it up so you don't get tired of any one thing
- Visit the National Institutes of Health (NIH) online for more suggestions on getting started
Stick With It!
Whatever you choose to do, commit to it. Make a promise to yourself. Write it down or tell your friends and family, especially if you need their encouragement to really stick with it. Even better, get them to do these things with you! These are good suggestions for everyone, at every age.
Need more? Try some of these sources:
- Visit brainhealth.gov
- Contact a local Area Agency on Aging (AAA)
- Use the Eldercare Locator www.eldercare.gov
- National Institutes of Health www.nih.gov
- National Institute on Aging at NIH www.nia.nih.gov
- ClinicalTrials.gov, a service of NIH www.clinicaltrials.gov
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention www.cdc.gov/aging
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity
Source Agencies: Administration for Community Living (ACL), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Last updated: 2015-10-14