Appendix H
Physical Activity for Healthy Aging

The American College of Sports Medicine, the American Heart Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the International Life Sciences Institute convened an expert panel in 1999 to update and develop comprehensive recommendations for physical activity for older adults based on research, best practice, and therapeutic recommendations. Highlights of the recommendations and areas of emphasis for older adults are outlined below. Please see the full report for more details.(1)


The recommendations apply to adults 65years of age or older and adults 50-64 years with conditions that affect movement, fitness or physical activity. Individuals should consult their healthcare provider regarding specific recommendations.

Aerobic Activity

  • Thirty minutes or more of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity five days per week or 20 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity three days per week or a combination of these.

Muscle-strengthening activity

  • Eight to ten exercises, with ten to 15 repetitions, should be performed on two or more non-consecutive days per week.
  • Level of effort should be moderate to high.
  • Exercises include weight training and resistance exercise for major muscle groups.

Flexibility activity

  • Perform activities to maintain or increase flexibility, ten minutes on two days per week.

Balance exercise (exercise specific to reduce risk of injury from falls)

  • Perform exercises that maintain or improve balance.

Benefits of greater amounts of activity

  • Improved personal fitness.
  • Improved management of conditions where increased physical activity is therapeutic.
  • Reduced risks for chronic disease and premature mortality.

Integrate preventive and therapeutic recommendations

  • Perform activities to prevent conditions from developing and/or treat conditions according to abilities and needs.

Activity plan

  • Plan includes each type of activity. and how, when, and where each activity is performed.
  • Plan integrates prevention and therapy for chronic conditions.
  • Plan is regularly reevaluated to address changes in ability or health status.

Areas of emphasis for older adults

  • Reduce sedentary behavior.
  • Increase moderate activity (with less emphasis on attaining high levels of activity).
  • Take gradual, stepwise approach.
  • Perform muscle-strengthening activity and all recommended types of activity.
  • Sustain emphasis on individual-level and community-level approaches.
  • Use risk management strategies to prevent injury.

Additional Resources


  1. Nelson ME, Rejeski WJ, Blair SN, Duncan PW, Jedge JO, King AC, Macera CA, Castaneda-Sceppa C. Physical activity and public health in older adults: Recommendations from the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association. Med Sci Sports Exerc 39:1435-1445, 2007. Available: