How much exercise does an senior 80 year old need?


As we age, regular physical activity becomes even more important for maintaining health and wellbeing. For 80-year-olds, appropriate exercise can help strengthen muscles and bones, improve balance and coordination, enhance heart and lung function, prevent disease and improve cognitive ability.

When creating an exercise routine, older adults have unique needs and considerations. Understanding how much and what types of exercise are beneficial can help 80-year-olds maximize the rewards of physical activity.

How Much Exercise Do 80 Year Olds Need?

How Much Exercise Do 80 Year Olds Need?

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that all adults aged 65 and older should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week. This equals around 20-30 minutes per day.

Examples of moderate-intensity exercise for 80-year-olds include:

  • Brisk walking
  • Low-impact aerobics
  • Tennis
  • Light cycling
  • Recreational swimming
  • Dancing

The WHO also suggests older adults add muscle-strengthening activities 2-3 days per week. These should target all major muscle groups.

Examples of muscle-strengthening exercises include:

  • Lifting weights
  • Resistance bands
  • Bodyweight exercises like squats or lunges
  • Carrying heavy loads like groceries

For those aged 65 and over, the WHO also recommends adding exercises that improve balance and prevent falls on 3 or more days per week.

Examples include:

  • Tai chi
  • Yoga
  • Backwards walking
  • Heel-toe standing

Overall, 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity plus 2-3 days of strength training and balance exercises is optimal for healthy 80-year-olds.

But what if you’re new to exercise or have limitations? Don’t worry - adjust and start where you can. Even small amounts of activity provide benefits.

Adjusting Exercise for 80 Year Old Beginners

If you’re new to exercise at 80, it’s perfectly alright to start small! The key is starting somewhere and slowly building up over time.

Here are some tips for 80-year-old beginners:

  • Start with just 5-10 minutes of walking per day. Gradually increase the duration until you reach 30 minutes.
  • Focus on posture and proper technique. Move through a full range of motion in a controlled way.
  • Build strength starting with your own bodyweight. Do modified push ups against a wall to start.
  • Try chair yoga or other seated exercises to improve flexibility without strain.
  • Work on static balance by standing with feet together. Hold for 30 seconds to start.
  • Take breaks as needed. Allow time for recovery between bouts of activity.
  • Talk to your doctor before starting an exercise regimen, especially if managing chronic conditions.

The most important thing is to begin with where you are comfortable and slowly progress. Patience and consistency are key.

Once you establish the habit of regular exercise, it will get easier to gradually increase your stamina, strength and mobility. Don’t get discouraged - every little bit counts!

How to Create an Exercise Routine for 80 Year Olds

Creating a balanced exercise plan tailored to your needs and abilities is important. Follow these tips to design a safe, effective fitness routine:

Include aerobic, strength and balance training - For overall health, include all three elements. Aerobic exercise improves heart health, strength prevents muscle loss and balance reduces falls.

Mix it up - Variety keeps exercise engaging and works muscles in different ways. Combine walking, swimming, yoga, weights and stretching.

Exercise most days of the week - Experts recommend being active 5-7 days per week. Schedule exercise into each day.

Start slow and progress gradually - Pace yourself appropriately and increase duration/intensity over time. Prevent injury and burnout.

Listen to your body - Note symptoms like shortness of breath, dizziness, pain or fatigue. Adjust activity if needed.

Focus on good form - Move deliberately and with control. Poor technique and posture can lead to injury.

Allow for rest and recovery - Rest days are essential to repair muscles and prevent overtraining. Plan 1-2 rest days per week.

Consult your doctor - Check with your physician before starting any new fitness program, especially if managing health conditions. Get personalized guidance.

Make it enjoyable - Do activities you like and mix it up to prevent boredom. Exercising should be fun!

Staying active at 80 provides physical and mental rewards. With a doctor's input, create a varied, progressive routine you look forward to doing most days.

What Types of Exercise Are Best for 80 Year Olds?

Certain forms of exercise are especially beneficial for 80-year-olds looking to improve health and functioning. Here are some top options to consider:


Low-Impact Aerobics: Low-impact cardio like walking, swimming and cycling improves heart health without straining joints.

Dancing: Dancing builds stamina while incorporating coordination and fun! Try line dancing or salsa.

Water Aerobics: Water offers gentle resistance. Water walking, aerobics and swimming strengthen the cardiovascular system.


Bodyweight Exercises: Push-ups, squats and crunches use your bodyweight for resistance. Start modified versions.

Resistance Bands: Bands provide flexible, low-impact strength training. Target arms, legs and core safely.

Weighted Exercises: When ready, use dumbbells for arm exercises and ankle weights for lower body training. Start light.


Tai Chi: This graceful martial art improves balance, coordination and focus through controlled motions.

Yoga: Gentle yoga works on flexibility, core strength and balance. Try chair yoga.

Agility Drills: Walking heel-to-toe, backwards and sideways challenges stability. Hold onto a chair as needed.

Lifestyle Activity

Yardwork and Gardening: Burn calories with activities like digging, raking and pushing a mower.

Household Chores: Scrubbing floors, washing windows and vacuuming raise your activity level.

Walking: A daily neighborhood stroll provides easy, low-impact cardio. Gradually increase distance.

Choose exercises you enjoy and that suit your abilities. Focus on good form and work at a level that feels moderately challenging.

Exercise Cautions for 80 Year Olds

While exercise is extremely beneficial at 80, there are important precautions to take as well. Be aware of the following to exercise safely:

Get medical clearance - Check with your doctor about any exercise restrictions or modifications needed for medical conditions.

Start slowly - Allow time for your body to adapt to increased activity. Begin with lighter intensity.

Listen to your body - Note symptoms like pain, tightness and fatigue. Don't overexert.

Stay hydrated - Drink water before, during and after exercise to prevent dehydration.

Choose proper footwear - Wear sturdy, well-fitting athletic shoes to support feet and prevent slips. Replace worn shoes.

Use assistive devices if needed - Use a cane or walker for balance if feeling unstable.

Exercise in a safe environment - Avoid slippery surfaces, darkness, traffic, crowds and other hazards.

Know your limitations - Work within your fitness level and don't overdo new or challenging exercises.

Stop if you feel unwell - Immediately cease exercise if experiencing chest pain, dizziness or other concerning symptoms.

With age, the body takes longer to recover. Allow ample time between strength training the same muscles. Build activity gradually and take precautions to exercise safely.

Example Weekly Exercise Routine for 80 Year Olds

Here is a sample one week exercise schedule showing how an 80-year-old could structure aerobic, strength and balance training:


  • 30 minute morning walk
  • 10 minutes beginner yoga video


  • 20 minutes stationary bike
  • 10 minute arm workout with resistance band


  • Rest day


  • 30 minute low-impact aerobics video
  • 10 minutes of heel-toe standing balance exercise


  • 30 minute swim at local pool
  • 10 minutes of bodyweight squats and lunges


  • 45 minute walk with neighbor
  • Stretching and foam rolling session


  • Rest day

This provides cardio activity 5-6 days per week, strength training 2-3 days, balance exercises 2 days and 1-2 days of rest. Mix up the activities to prevent boredom.

Start where able and at a conservative intensity. Try this routine and modify as needed. The key is staying active consistently.

How Can an 80 Year Old Get Motivated to Exercise?

Starting and sticking with an exercise regimen can be challenging at any age. For 80-year-olds, certain strategies may provide extra motivation:

  • Schedule it - Mark exercise appointments on your calendar to make them a priority.
  • Find a companion - Arrange to walk or go to a group fitness class with a friend. Having company can inspire you.
  • Set reminders - Use phone alerts, post-it notes or other prompts to remember to exercise each day.
  • Track your activity - Use a journal, app or fitness tracker to monitor your progress. Seeing success is motivating.
  • Vary your workouts - Prevent boredom by regularly changing up your exercise routine. Try new activities.
  • Focus on overall health - Remember that exercise provides overall benefits - improved heart health, bone density, sleep, mood and cognition.
  • Be patient - It takes 4-6 weeks to notice changes and create an exercise habit. Persist through initial difficulty.
  • Focus on enjoyment - Do exercises you find fun and rewarding. Music, beautiful scenery and fresh air can enhance the experience.
  • Reward yourself - Celebrate successes like completing a new workout or meeting a stamina goal.

Making time for exercise and pushing past temporary fatigue is challenging. But even 10 minutes a day provides gains. Draw motivation from your "why." Prioritize exercise for increased health and vitality.

Frequently Asked Questions About Exercise for 80 Year Olds

People often have additional questions about creating the right exercise routine at 80 years old. Here are some commonly asked questions and answers:

How often should an 80-year-old exercise?

Experts recommend exercising most days of the week, ideally 5-7 days. This provides consistent stimulus for adaptation and health benefits. Schedule in activity daily as able.

What if I can’t do 150 minutes of exercise due to limitations?

Don't worry if you can't meet the full activity guidelines. Do what you can based on your current fitness and health. Even 10-15 minutes daily provides benefits. Build up to more over time.

Should I exercise in the morning or afternoon?

The best time is what fits your schedule and preferences. Some find exercising first thing energizing. Others prefer afternoons when the body is warmed up. Try both to see what you like.

Will exercise help me lose weight at 80?

While strength and endurance are bigger priorities at 80, regular activity can contribute to modest weight loss by burning extra calories. However, diet remains more impactful for weight control.

How hard should I push myself when exercising?

At 80, light to moderate intensity is best. You should feel challenged but not to the point of strain or pain. Talking should still be possible during aerobic activity. Listen to your body.

What if I haven't exercised regularly before 80?

It's never too late to start! Begin slowly with light walking, range of motion exercises and other entry-level activities. Build up duration and intensity gradually over weeks and months. Be patient with yourself and your progress.

Staying physically active is one of the best ways for 80-year-olds to maintain health and independence. Speak with your physician to develop an appropriate exercise plan tailored to your needs and abilities. Consistency is key - start where able and make exercise a daily habit.

How much exercise does a senior 80 year old need?

According to the National Institute on Aging, older adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity each week. This can be divided into smaller 10-minute bouts throughout the day. Additionally, older adults should also engage in muscle-strengthening activities that work all major muscle groups on at least 2 days a week.

What is considered moderate-intensity aerobic activity?

Moderate-intensity aerobic activity is any activity that increases your heart rate and breathing, but still allows you to carry on a conversation. Examples of moderate-intensity activities include brisk walking, swimming, cycling, or dancing.

What is considered vigorous-intensity aerobic activity?

Vigorous-intensity aerobic activity is any activity that greatly increases your heart rate and breathing, to the point where it is difficult to have a conversation. Examples of vigorous-intensity activities include jogging, running, fast cycling, aerobic dancing, or playing a sport like basketball or soccer.

How often should I engage in aerobic activity?

Older adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity spread throughout the week. This can be achieved by engaging in aerobic activity for at least 10 minutes at a time.

How often should I engage in muscle-strengthening activities?

Older adults should engage in muscle-strengthening activities that work all major muscle groups on at least 2 days a week. This can include exercises such as lifting weights, using resistance bands, or doing bodyweight exercises like push-ups or squats.

What are the benefits of exercise for seniors?

Regular exercise helps to improve physical health, increase muscle strength, improve balance and flexibility, reduce the risk of heart disease, and help prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes and certain types of cancer.

How does exercise help with healthy aging?

Exercise plays a crucial role in healthy aging by keeping the body strong, reducing the risk of falls, improving cognitive function, boosting mood, and promoting independence. It can also help to manage chronic conditions, such as arthritis or osteoporosis.

Can older adults engage in vigorous exercise?

Yes, older adults can engage in vigorous exercise as long as they are in good health and have no underlying medical conditions that may be aggravated by vigorous activity. However, it is always recommended to consult with a healthcare provider before starting a new exercise program.

Older adults should aim for 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity spread throughout the week. This can be achieved by engaging in vigorous activity for at least 10 minutes at a time.

Can exercising in older age help prevent heart disease?

Yes, regular exercise in older age can help to reduce the risk of heart disease. Engaging in aerobic activity and strength training can improve heart health, lower blood pressure, and reduce cholesterol levels, which are all factors that contribute to heart disease prevention.

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