Older Adults and Physical Activity

Michael Reuland, DPT, CSCS

A recent article published in the Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy sought to compare performance in physical activity measures in adults who did and did not meet the US Department of Health and Human Services’ 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.

These 2008 physical activity guidelines include a recommended 150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous physical activity and resistance training 2 times per week using all major muscle groups (upper extremity (UE), lower extremity (LE), and trunk). The study showed that adults who met the minimum amount of resistance training or minimum aerobic exercise had higher leg strength, power, and gait speed than adults who did not. Those who met minimum amount of both types of exercise performed better still than those who met only one.

What do we learn from this study? Regular physical activity helps people maintain mobility and balance and increases function and safety. Resistance training also helps maintain normal muscle mass and bone density which is important for long term health and combating the effects of aging.

So what does moderate to vigorous physical activity look like? Moderate activity can include walking at a brisk pace, mowing the lawn, or gardening. Use the “talk test” –you should be able to hold a light conversation during moderate activity. Hiking, jogging, jumping rope, playing sports, or Pelvicore class exemplify vigorous activity. Conversation would be more limited during these activities. Resistance training can mean lifting weights at the gym, body weight exercise at home, or coming to our super-effective Total Gym Gravity class here at Creative Therapeutics.

Getting outside to play with friends and family is a great way to spend an evening or a weekend afternoon. Walks by yourself (in a safe environment) are an excellent time to reflect or listen to a book or podcast.

None of this information should be surprising–health improves with regular exercise. It can sometimes be difficult to make time throughout the day to increase activity, but by finding activities that you enjoy and making consistent time for them, you will find success and improve your health. Helping people figure out ways to keep moving that work for them in their lives is something I’m passionate about. If you’ve been meaning to get more active but have some concerns, limitations, or just don’t know where to start, call us at 815-758-5508 and set up a free consultation.



Trudelle-Jackson E, Jackson AW. Do older adults who meet 2008 physical activity guidelines have better physical performance than those who do not met? J Geriatr Phys Ther. 2018;41(3):180-185.

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