Older Adults and Endurance Fitness

One important type of physical activity is endurance fitness. This is any activity that uses your body’s large muscle groups and helps you have a stronger heart and lungs.

Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re planning to do endurance fitness activities. Be sure to choose exercises that are right for your health, medical condition, fitness level, and fitness goals.

  • Older adults should do at least 30 minutes of activity on most and preferably all days of the week. You don’t have to do activities all at once. For instance, you can do three 10 minute sessions during the day.
  • You can get extra health benefits by increasing the length of time you’re active or by using more effort. To avoid injury, it’s better to increase the length of time.
  • Do activities to a moderate level of intensity. This means raising your heart rate and causing you to sweat and breathe more quickly. While doing an activity of moderate intensity, you’re still able to talk comfortably but not sing a song
  • If you’re not already active, start at an easy level and slowly increase how hard you’re working based on how you feel. If exercising causes you to breathe hard, take a day off after each exercise day. This helps you avoid injury and gives your body time to recover, but still lets you be active at least 3 times per week.
  • Activities can include brisk walking, gardening, yard work, housework, climbing stairs, golfing, swimming, yoga or Tai Chi (a Chinese system of slow physical exercise designed for relaxation, balance, flexibility and muscle strength).
  • To encourage you to stay active, do activities that are enjoyable, convenient, and in a nearby location.
  • Doing activities with a friend or in a group can provide social support for staying active.
  • You’re more likely to keep doing your exercises if you learn about all the health benefits of being active.
  • If you’re not already active or you have a medical condition, visit your health care provider to make sure the activity and amount of effort you’re using are right for you. See your health care provider regularly to keep track of your increases in activity, medical conditions, or medication use.

Last Reviewed: March 2017


©2017 Province of British Columbia. All rights reserved. May be reproduced in its entirety provided the source is acknowledged. This information is not meant to replace advice from your medical doctor or individual counselling with a health professional. It is intended for educational and informational purposes only.

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