How to get fit in your 60s

By HBF

6 minutes

21 May 2021

How to get fit in your 60s

Whether you used to be a health and fitness junkie and fell out of the habit, or you’ve never been into a gym in your life, exercising in your sixties can do incredible things for your health.

It can help you lose weight, sleep better, improve your blood pressure, strengthen your bones and joints and reduce your risk of falls and injury, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, stroke, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.1 It’s also amazing for your mental health – including reducing stress and symptoms of conditions such as anxiety and depression.2

Yet for all those benefits, less than half of Australians aged over 55 are getting enough physical activity. And in Aussies aged 65 or older, that trend gets even stronger. 69% of men and 74% of women in this age group are not getting the recommended amount of physical activity.3

How much exercise should I do in my 60s?

The Department of Health recommends people in their sixties do some form of physical activity every single day. Even a small increase in activity each day can help improve your health and fitness.4

If you’re in your early sixties they suggest 2.5 to five hours of moderate-intensity physical activity a week. 1 That’s any activity that gets your heart rate up but doesn’t leave you breathless. It could be a brisk walk, a round of golf or a swim.

Like shorter, harder workouts? You could go for 1.25 to 2.5 hours of vigorous-intensity physical activity each week instead, like jogging or aerobics, plus some muscle-strengthening exercises, like yoga or weight training.

If you’re in your late sixties, then experts recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each day.4 But it’s all about finding the right activity for you – and you don’t have to do the whole half hour in one hit.

If you’ve got chronic conditions like arthritis, heart problems, diabetes, asthma or osteoporosis, it’s always important to talk to your doctor about exercise.

How should I get my exercise in my 60s?

If you’re in your sixties and you want to improve your physical fitness, here are a few things to consider to help you get started and stick with it:

  • Talk to your GP first. They’ll be able to tell you which kinds of exercise are suitable and which to avoid. This is especially important if you have a heart condition, chest pain, dizziness, asthma, diabetes or a bone or joint-related condition5, a disability or a chronic condition.6

Remember, some of HBF’s health cover options can provide benefits for exercise professionals that require a doctor’s referral. You can learn more about our health programs.

  • Start small and slow and build up. If you’re not used to regular exercise, or it’s been a while, it’s better to gradually build the intensity of your workout as your fitness improves and confidence grows. Start with a slow lap of the block, build up to two laps, then three. No one’s asking you to race Cathy Freeman.

  • Get the mix of exercises right. As we get older it’s important to include a variety of exercises to improve not just our fitness levels and strength, but our flexibility and our balance. 7 Improving your balance with a little yoga now, for example, could help prevent falls later.

  • Keep your motivation in mind. Remember why you’re doing it. Find what motivates you to exercise and build some goals around it. Cater it to your own special goals – maybe your goal could be a 5km run with your dog.

  • Find exercise you enjoy doing. Whether it’s mowing the lawn or doubles tennis, if you like a physical activity, you’re much more likely to commit to doing it regularly.

  • Incorporate physical activity into your everyday life. Sweeping, vacuuming and cleaning windows can all count as moderate physical activity. If you’re going to supermarket, park further away and walk in.

  • Fitness with a friend. Whether it’s a round of golf or a beach swim, you’re likely to keep motivated and stay committed if you do it with a friend. (But if you’re friends with Cathy Freeman, maybe find someone else to go running with.)

What specific sorts of exercise should I do in my 60s?

Incorporate a mix of aerobic exercise, strength and balance training into your exercise routine.9

Aerobic exercise could literally mean dusting off that old Jane Fonda workout video. It could also mean swimming, cycling, jogging, or a brisk walk. Just something to get your heart rate up. Strength training could mean using weights or resistance bands. For balance, consider yoga or tai chi.

Nutrition tips for your 60s

Eating a nutritious diet and maintaining a healthy weight is important at any age but there are a few extra things you may want to consider as you get older.

  • Seek good sources of fibre; foods like whole grain cereals, legumes and dried fruit. Older adults can sometimes experience constipation and eating foods high in fibre can help prevent or alleviate constipation.10 And remember if increasing fibre to also drink plenty of water.
  • Keep hydrated. As we age, our thirst sensation decreases. Enjoy a glass of water with every meal and after exercising. 9
  • Try to limit salt intake. Limit processed meats, snack foods that are high in salt, and swap out salt for herbs and spices when you’re cooking.9
  • Micronutrients like calcium and vitamin D can help protect bone health as you age. Milk and milk products are good sources of calcium, and while the best source of Vitamin D is the sun you can also get vitamin D from milk and milk products as well as other foods.9
  • Check in with your appetite; if you find your appetite is not quite what it used to be, try to find different ways to prepare meals to make it easier (or more appealing) for you to ensure you are getting all the energy and nutrients your body needs.10

A final word on fitness in your 60s

We could all find that a few health issues start to show up in our sixties, but our sixties are also an opportunity to strengthen our bodies for the decades to come. If you have fitness goals to achieve, don’t forget HBF can help.

If you have chronic health conditions, we also encourage you to learn more about our health support programs.

Good luck with your fitness goals.


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Disclaimer:
This article contains general information only and does not take into account the health, personal situation or needs of any person. In conjunction with your GP or treating health care professional, please consider whether the information is suitable for you and your personal circumstances