How to get fit in your 70s

By HBF

6 minutes

04 August 2021

A woman in her 70s walking a dog on a suburban street.

Getting regular exercise is always a good investment in your future, and when you’re in your seventies, it’s a great idea to keep moving.

Whether you used to be a fitness fanatic or you’ve never exercised much in your life, keeping yourself moving in your seventies can make a huge difference to your quality of life.

Keeping fit can help you to remain active, mobile and living independently for as long as possible. It can make all the difference in allowing you to continue enjoying the things you’ve always loved doing.1

Exercise can help keep your energy levels up, improve your mood, strength, stamina, flexibility and balance, and can even reduce your risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, back pain and osteoporosis.1

How much exercise should I do in my 70s?

The Australian Department of Health recommends anyone over the age of 65 gets at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most days (preferably every day).2

A moderate physical activity is one that gets your heart rate up and may get you sweating, but still leaves you enough breath to be able to talk. It could be a brisk walk, a round of golf (with plenty of walking), water aerobics, a bike ride or even doing some gardening.

Getting even a little light physical activity is better than getting none at all. If you can, try to include a range of different activities over the week to get a mix of fitness, strength, balance and flexibility benefits.2

How should I get my exercise in my 70s?

If you’re starting or restarting regular exercise in your seventies, there are a few things to consider to give yourself the best possible chance of success.

  • Seek advice from your GP. Before you start, chat to your doctor. By evaluating your health and fitness levels, they’ll be able to give you advice on which kinds of exercise are suitable for you and what you might need to avoid. This is particularly important if you have a disability or are managing a chronic condition.2
  • Break up your fitness half hour. You don’t have to do the full half hour’s exercise in one go each day. You can break it up into three 10-minute blocks, or two 15-minute blocks.2
  • Build up slowly. Gradually build up to achieving the guidelines. Maybe start with a single lap of the block and build up to two laps, then three, etc.
  • Cover all bases with your exercise mix. Talk to your doctor about a mix of exercises that will improve not just your fitness level and strength, but also your flexibility and balance.3
  • Do physical activities you actually enjoy. If you like a physical activity, you’re much more likely to commit to doing it regularly.
  • Find little ways to be move more. For example, try parking a little further away from the supermarket door to get some extra steps in.
  • Join a fitness group or find a friend. Exercising with other people can help keep you motivated and committed, and it can be a great social outlet as well.

What specific sorts of exercise should I do in my 70s?

A mix of cardio (like aerobics), strength training (like weights or resistance band exercises) and exercises that improve your balance (like side leg raises or calf raises) is important in our seventies.

Some examples of activities that are great for flexibility include tai chi or a game of lawn bowls. Strength training can come in the form of climbing stairs or doing some planting in the garden. There are plenty of activities that you may enjoy that can be worked more regularly into your day that can help you achieve your daily physical activity.2

Nutrition tips for your 70s

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. This includes 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 this.4 If increasing fibre, remember to also drink plenty of water.5
  • Keep hydrated. As we age, our thirst sensation may decrease.5 Try to enjoy a glass of water with every meal and after exercising.
  • 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.6
  • Include micronutrients like calcium and vitamin D. These 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 it from milk and milk products as well as other foods.6
  • 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.4

A final word on fitness in your 70s

In our seventies it’s more important than ever to keep on moving, however we can. If you’re starting or restarting your fitness journey in your seventies, HBF can help.  

If you have chronic or pre-existing health conditions, we also have health support programs for our members.

Good luck with your fitness goals. Keep moving!


Sources:
1How to stay fit and active in your 60s and 70s – Fitness Australia
2For older Australians (65 years and over) – Australian Government Department of Health (2021)
3Physical activity guidelines for older adults – healthdirect (2020)
4Healthy eating over 60 – healthdirect (2020)
5Hydration in the aging – Hydration for Health
6Nutrition and older adults – Nutrition Australia (2013)

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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.