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Fitness Programmes for the Elderly


According to the findings of the Healthy Exercise for All Campaign V Physical Fitness Test for the Community released in 2012, 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 energy# to maintain a healthy body weight;

  3. Improve blood pressure and reduce the level of blood lipids;

  4. Prevent or control type II 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 "Rate of Perceived Exertion" (see the table below), and adjust the intensity according to your own fitness level.

Rate of Perceived Exertion

No exertion at all
Very light
Somewhat hard
Fairly hard
Very hard
Very very hard
Extremely hard
Maximal exertion


Recommended Level of Physical Activity for the Elderly (Aged 65 or above)G

Physical activities for the elderly 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.

For all healthy elderly aged 65 or above without any contraindication to physical activity :

  1. The elderly should do at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activities, or at least 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activities, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activities.

  2. Aerobic activities should be done in bouts of at least ten minutes.

  3. For additional health benefits, the elderly should increase their moderate-intensity aerobic physical activities to 300 minutes a week, or do vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activities for 150 minutes a week, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activities.

  4. The elderly with poor mobility should do physical activities that improve balance and prevent falls on three or more days a week.

  5. The elderly should also do muscle-strengthening activities that involve major muscle groups on two or more days a week.

  6. For those who cannot do the recommended amounts of physical activity due to health conditions, they should be as physically active as their abilities and conditions allow.

    (Reference: Global Recommendations on Physical Activity for Health. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2010.)


Fitness Exercise for the Elderly



Warm-up Exercise

(i) Mobility Exercise
(ii) Stretching Exercise

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

Cool-down Exercise

(i) Breathing Exercise for the Elderly
(ii) Stretching Exercise

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Acknowledgement to the organization for the provision of information :

Physical Fitness Association of Hong Kong, China



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