Physical Activity


Keeping physically active can help you to stay healthy, energetic and independent well into old age. Ideally, you should aim to be active on a daily basis but any amount of extra activity that is appropriate for your age group and health will make a difference. 


In general it is recommended that adults who have no health conditions that limit their mobility do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity, aerobic exercise every week. Moderate-intensity exercise means working hard enough to feel warm and out of breath and can include activities such as brisk walking, cycling on level ground and even mowing the lawn.
Muscle strengthening activities should also be carried out at least twice a week, to increase and maintain muscle tone which helps with mobility and coordination. These exercises also improve balance, helping to prevent falls which are a leading cause of disability in older people. Muscle-strengthening exercises do not just involve lifting weights - carrying shopping, dancing and yoga all count. Many gyms and leisure centres offer exercise classes designed specifically for older people, so if this appeals to you, contact your local centre to see what is available.
If you are generally healthy and do not suffer from heart problems or problems with your bones or joints, you can gradually increase your exercise levels without consulting your doctor. If you are not very active or have any worries about your health you should talk to your GP before embarking on an exercise regime.

Benefits of exercise


Keeping fit and active has numerous health benefits. 
  • It lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease such as coronary heart disease by 20-30%.
  • People who are moderately active have a 30-40% lower risk of developing type-2 diabetes than those who have a sedentary lifestyle.
  • There is a 30% lower risk of developing colon cancer and a 20% lower risk of breast cancer for adults participating in regular physical activity.
  • Higher amounts of activity can improve muscle function, reduce bone loss, improve balance and flexibility and have a beneficial effect on blood pressure.
  • Exercising for more than 3 hours a week halves the risk of osteoporosis and heart attack when compared to a sedentary person of the same age.
  • Physical activity reduces the risk of depression and cognitive decline in older adults; there is approximately a 20-30% lower risk for developing depression for those who undertake daily physical activity.
  • Engaging in physical activity can reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness and increase levels of confidence and feelings of well-being and control.



You do not necessarily need to set aside a special time to get more active. Activity can quite easily be introduced as part of your daily routine. Try getting off the bus a few stops earlier and walking the rest of the way, use the stairs instead of the lift or escalator or walk to the local shops.



You do not need to be good at sport to get more active. Activities such as walking, dancing and gardening are all good forms of exercise. If you do want to take up a sporting activity, ask your local leisure centre for information on what opportunities they have available.



You do not necessarily need special clothes or equipment for exercise – walking is a great form of exercise and it is free. If you do want to join a group or class, check for offers or special rates.

Useful links


The "Get Active - your way every day" booklet produced by Health Scotland provides information on physical activity for all ages: Read or Download the Booklet here (PDF 3.34MB)

NHS Inform have produced some simple exercises that can help you start to get moving: Visit the NHS Inform site

Active Scotland lets you search a variety of physical activities in your area, suitable for all levels of ability: Visit the Active Scotland site 

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