Senior man on road bike next to a river, looking at camera

Activities for seniors

Are you retired and looking for ways to stay active? Tips for keeping active in retirement.

Staying active as you age isn’t always easy. But while finding the energy and motivation to keep your aching joints and tired body moving can be a challenge, it’s a challenge worth tackling. Staying active as a senior provides a number of benefits, not only for your physical health but also for your mental and emotional wellbeing.

So what are the benefits of raising a sweat as a senior and what are some fun and easy ways to stay active? Read on to find out.

Why is it important to stay active as a senior?

As we get older, muscle strength decreases as does our sense of balance. These declining physical attributes are the perfect ingredients for a fall, which can in turn lead to a range of more serious injuries and health problems.

With this in mind, staying active is the most important thing you can do to stay physically fit and maintain your independence as you get older. The more active you are, the stronger and healthier your muscles and joints will be and the less likely you are to have a fall.

But staying active can also have a range of other benefits. Regular exercise works wonders for your mental health, helps fight off depression and anxiety, and gets you out and about to meet new people.

Experts recommend at least 30 minutes of activity, five days a week as a guideline for all Australians. The aim is to exercise so that your breathing and heart rate increase, but the exertion is not so intense that you are unable to talk.

There are plenty of ways you can stay active as you age without leaving the house.

  • Heel-to-toe walking. With your fingertips resting on a nearby surface for safety, this exercise helps build balance and strength.
  • Knee raises. Repeating this exercise with both legs will help you climb stairs and hop in and out of cars.
  • Sit to stand. Slowly move from sitting in a chair to a standing position, crossing your arms across your chest for extra difficulty.
  • Climbing steps. Hold on to a railing for support and repeatedly climb up and down a single step to improve your strength and stability on stairs and uneven surfaces.

Popular activities for seniors

Staying active doesn’t have to be a chore. There are plenty of fun, interesting and challenging ways for you to get the regular exercise you need.

  • Dancing. Dancing classes can be a fun and social way to increase your heart rate.
  • Lawn bowls. While it may not seem like the most active of pursuits, lawn bowls is great for developing balance and strength.
  • Group exercise sessions. Exercising is always easier in a group, so get a few friends together and start pounding the pavement. The social benefits alone will make it worth the effort.
  • Pilates and yoga. These are both low-impact forms of exercise and an experienced instructor will be able to modify a routine to suit your physical capabilities.
  • Tai chi. Strength, balance and relaxation are just some of the key areas this Chinese martial art allows you to focus on.
  • Gym sessions. You don’t have to be a 20-something to hit the gym. Find an experienced personal trainer who can tailor a gym workout to suit your needs.
  • Golf. Leave the cart at the clubhouse and walk your way around nine or more holes. The worse your game is, the more exercise you’ll get.
  • Swimming. A low-impact form of exercise, swimming offers a number of benefits for your strength and aerobic fitness levels.
  • Aqua aerobics. Another low-impact option that’s great for stiff and aching joints, aqua aerobics classes can still provide an intense muscle workout.
  • Walking. It may be the simplest form of exercise in this list but it can also be one of the most enjoyable, regardless of whether you do it by yourself or with a companion.
  • Biking. Exploring on two wheels is a wonderful way to raise your heart rate, especially if you live near easily accessible cycle paths.
  • Gardening. Getting your hands dirty and connecting with nature can also provide a challenging physical workout.

Finding activities near you

A great first point of contact to find activities or exercise groups in your local area is your local council. Most councils around Australia will be able to advise you of any community-based physical activity programs in your area and let you know what you need to do to get involved.

Another great option is to search for exercise classes and activities in your area through the National Health Service Directory. This provides up-to-date information about a range of services and activities close to you.

Finally, many state and territory governments also run programs and services designed to help their residents exercise more and find suitable activities near them. Find the closest exercise program you can claim on your private health insurance using our map.

Seniors organisations

  • Australian Retired Persons Association (ARPA Active Over 50s). The association provides support and a wide range of activities to help keep Australia’s over 50s moving and keeping their minds and bodies active.
  • Association of Independent Retirees (AIR). AIR is a volunteer political organisation which aims to protect and further the interests and independent lifestyle of retired Australians. It provides a range of information on healthy lifestyles to help you stay active in retirement.
  • National Seniors Australia. This not-for-profit association is the consumer lobby for older Australians and has more than 200,000 members. It aims to provide the over 50s with everything they need to negotiate the second half of their lives.
  • Older People Speak Out. This independent group promotes positive ageing and celebrates the contributions of older Australians. It advocates on behalf of seniors to resolve a range of issues affecting older people.
  • COTA Australia. The peak body representing the rights and interests of older Australians, COTA aims to promote and improve the wellbeing and circumstances of older Australians.

Picture: Shutterstock

Tim Falk

A writer with a passion for the written word, Tim loves helping Australians compare and find the right products. When he's not chained to a computer, Tim can usually be found exploring the great outdoors.

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