Fitness Programmes for the Elderly


Fitness Programmes for the Elderly


According to the findings of the “Physical Fitness Test for the Community”, over 60% of the elderly (aged 60 to 69) were overweight or obese, and over 40% of them had a waist circumference of over 90 cm (for men) and 80 cm (for women) (the level of “central obesity” as defined by the World Health Organization).  The study also found that around 37% of the elderly were suffering from high blood pressure.

The “Baseline Indicator”for physical activities requires participation in physical activity of moderate-or-above intensity at least three days a week with an accumulation of at least 30 minutes a day. The study revealed that less than 40% of the elderly could be considered “active”according to the Baseline Indicator. This reflected that most elderly people did not carry out sufficient physical activities to maintain good health.

The overall findings of the study underscored a certain degree of correlation between the levels of physical fitness and physical activity. To lead an enjoyable later life, the elderly should exercise regularly and keep a healthy lifestyle.

Doing a moderate amount of exercise is beneficial to physical and mental health. The benefits are as follows:

  1. Strengthen your body and improve cardiopulmonary functions;
  2. Burn calories# to maintain a healthy body weight;
  3. Improve blood pressure and reduce the level of blood lipids;
  4. Prevent or control diabetes;
  5. Prevent cardiovascular disease and stroke;
  6. Prevent osteoporosis;
  7. Prevent some types of cancer (e.g. colorectal cancer);
  8. Reduce the risk of falls;
  9. Improve your mood and relieve stress in daily life; and
  10. Help make new friends and broaden social circle.
#To learn more about the physical activity and calorie expenditure will help body weight management.
  Example 1: For an elderly person aged 75 years and weighing 65 kg, a 30-minute slow walk will burn about 120 kcal.
Example 2:   For an elderly person aged 60 years and weighing 50 kg, 30 minutes of fitness exercise will burn about 140 kcal.)
(Note: The examples shown above are for illustration only.  The actual amount of calorie expended may vary with individuals’ age, gender, physical fitness, skill level, intensity of exercise, etc.)

To encourage the elderly to do more physical activities, information on some suitable exercises, including chair aerobic, walk aerobics and towel exercise, is provided below.  Information on exercises to improve muscle strength and balance control is also provided to meet their needs.


Points to Note for the Elderly During Exercise: 

  1. Seek advice from a medical practitioner or professional before doing exercise;
  2. Pay attention to safety and remember to clear all the obstacles within the exercise area;
  3. Wear suitable sportswear and sports shoes;
  4. Proceed step by step and start with simple exercise;
  5. Remember to do sufficient warm-up and cool-down exercises before and after the physical activities;
  6. Keep breathing smoothly and beware of any symptoms such as dizziness, shortness of breath and chest tightness. If you have any of such symptoms, stop the exercise immediately; and
  7. Keep the intensity of exercise within the scale from 5 to 7 according to the "Rating of Perceived Exertion" (see the table below), and adjust the intensity according to your own fitness level.

Rating of Perceived Exertion

Guidelines on the amount of Physical Activity for the Elderly :

Physical activities include recreational or leisure-time physical activities in their daily, family and community life, e.g. daily commuting (walking or cycling), performing official duties (for people still working), doing household chores, and participating in games, competitions, sports and planned exercise.


Fitness Exercise for the Elderly 

Steps: A Warm-up Exercise (i) Mobility Exercise
(ii) Stretching Exercise
B Fitness Exercise (i) Chair Aerobic Exercise for the Elderly
(ii) Walk Aerobics for the Elderly
(iii) Towel Exercise for the Elderly
(iv) Static Balancing Exercise for the Elderly
(v) Muscle Strengthening Exercise for the Elderly
C Cool-down Exercise (i) Breathing Exercise for the Elderly
(ii) Stretching Exercise

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Physical Fitness Association of Hong Kong, China