Maintaining regular physical activity enhances your well-being, improves your health and preserves your independence. It helps develop and maintain muscle, which in turn reduces the risk of a fall. 

It is important that you move around as much as possible, but avoid physical activities that are too tiring or too long.

It is never too late to take up or return to a physical or sporting activity. However, check with your doctor first if you want to take up or return to a high-intensity activity.

If you are not keen on sport, you can stay active by having a daily walk, as walking is the simplest physical activity.

How much exercise should I do ?

Over the course of a week, seniors should do at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or at least 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity.

To enjoy additional health benefits, seniors should increase their moderate-intensity aerobic activity to more than 300 minutes per week, or do more than 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity.

Seniors with reduced mobility should concentrate on physical activity aimed at improving balance and preventing falls at least 3 times a week.

They should do muscle-strengthening exercises involving the major muscle groups at least 2 days per week.

When older people are unable to engage in the recommended amount of physical activity due to their health condition, they should be as physically active as their abilities and condition allow.

How can I be more active in everyday life?

Try and do as much as you can on foot; where possible, take the stairs, go for walks, take your grandchildren to the park, go cycling or use an exercise bike at home, try swimming or dancing.

Finally, it is also worth remembering that housework, DIY, gardening, etc. are also everyday forms of physical activity.

The less intense the activity, the longer you should do it. It is up to you to choose what suits you best.

Examples of low-intensity activities: 45 min.

  • Slow walking.
  • Watering the garden.
  • DIY.
  • Sweeping.
  • Petanque.
  • Snooker.
  • Bowling.
  • Washing up.
  • Ironing.
  • Dusting.
  • Ballroom dancing, etc.

Examples of moderate-intensity activities: 30 min.

  • Brisk walking (at a good pace).
  • Washing the windows or the car.
  • Hoovering.
  • Light gardening.
  • Raking leaves.
  • Cycling.
  • Leisurely swimming.
  • Aqua aerobics.
  • Frisbee.
  • Badminton.
  • Golf, etc.

Examples of vigorous-intensity activities: 30 min.

  • Walking on uneven terrain.
  • Hiking in the mountains.
  • Digging.
  • Jogging.
  • Mountain biking.
  • "Fast" swimming.
  • Football, basketball (and most team ball sports).
  • Tennis.
  • Squash, etc.

How to stay flexible ?

In addition to carrying out daily tasks, here are some examples of exercises you can do every day to stretch, loosen up, keep your balance and look after your joints.

Exercise 1

Jogging on the spot: while standing and remaining on the spot, imitate the action of running by lifting your knees and moving your arms backwards and forwards. Start slowly, then speed up. Breathe normally. Do this for at least 15 seconds, rest for a few seconds, then repeat 3 times.

Exercise 2

Sitting on a chair, raise one leg and hold it out for a few seconds before lowering it to rest. Repeat this 10 to 30 times, 3 times a day, gradually increasing how long you spend on the exercise and swapping legs.

An alternative method could be to rest the extended leg on a stool and move your ankle.

Senior citizens' clubs, some associations and local authorities regularly offer interesting, age-appropriate sports activities. Physical activity in a group is much more motivating and maintains social contacts. Ask your local authority about this type of offer.

Published by the National Health Directorate (Direction de la santé) and the Ministry of Family Affairs, Integration and the Greater Region

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