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Effective forms of exercise as we age

Exercise and physical activity will look different for everyone and depends on many different factors, such as our enjoyment, time, money we have to spend, and physical ability. It is important to find an activity that we enjoy. Some activities will cost money, but your local council might offer lower cost options.  

Below we share some low and no cost activities that research indicates are suitable for women over the age of 50. 

Tai Chi and Qigong

Tai Chi and Qigong are gentle forms of exercise that help with balance and mobility. 

If you are interested in trying Tai Chi or Qigong socially, you might consider visiting Celestial Tai Chi College. They occasionally run free park sessions. 

Yoga

Yoga is an effective form of exercise for many women as we ageIt can lead to improvements in overall health and is associated with the effective management of osteoarthritis, pain and other disabilities.

Balance exercises

Keeping our balance becomes more important as we get older to prevent falling. Including exercises like marching on the spot or walking heel-to-toe exercises can help. 

Active and Healthy NSW has guides and videos with more balance exercises to try.

Strength training

 Strength training improves the strength and endurance of our muscles. Doing them regularly has many benefits for our health and wellbeing. 

Studies have shown that strength training can increase our flexibility and balance, improve mobility and increase our bone density. It can also reduce our risk of osteoporosis, arthritic pain and other chronic conditions. 

Making social connections part of physical activity

It’s fun to exercise with friends! There is likely to be a group or a club where we can meet others and move together to increase our wellbeing and social interactions.

You might consider trying a dance class, like the free Bollywood Dance at Studio J Dance. It is suitable for all individuals, including if you have a physical disability. 

The Australian Multicultural Community Services (AMCS) and Sport Australia have a program called Moving for Life, that has lots of group activities. 

You can find more of these groups in the section on friendships and community. You can also visit your local council for groups and social activities near you. 

Watch Lyn’s story on keeping physically active in older age.

More exercise tips and resources

For more information about exercises to try, check out these resources:  

  • Living Stronger exercise series by Council of the Aged Victoria (COTA) 
  • Resources and tips from Get Active Victoria 
  • Get guidance on living a more active life from Exercise Right, with resources and “how to” suggestions for all ages, abilities and health conditions 
References

ABC News (2021) Navigating NDIS an exhausting and disempowering process, people with disabilities say 

Active and Healthy NSW (2017) Exercise at home 

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2012) Australia’s health 2012  

Bauman A, Merom D, Bull FC, Buchner DM, Singh, MAF (2016) Updating the evidence for physical activity: summative reviews of the epidemiological evidence, prevalence, and interventions to promote "active aging". The Gerontologist. 56(S2), S268-S280 

Better Health (2015) Physical activity – choosing the one for you 

Better Health (2015) Physical activity – staying motivated 

Better Health (2022) Exercise programs 

Better Health (2022) Physical activity – how to get started 

Better Health (2023) Physical activity for seniors  

Better Health (2023) Physical activity – overcoming excuses 

Cheung C (2014) Yoga for managing knee osteoarthritis in older women: a pilot randomized controlled trial. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 14(1):160 

COTA Victoria (2023) Victoria together living stronger exercise series 

COTA Victoria (2023) Social and wellbeing 

Department of Health (2012) Development of evidence based physical activity of adults 

Department of Health and Aged Care (2021) Physical activity and exercise guidelines for all Australians 

Department of Health and Aged Care (2022) For people with disability or chronic conditions 

Exercise Right (2023) 10 important messages for those living with chronic pain 

Exercise Right (n.d.) Chronic conditions 

Exercise Right (n.d.) Exercise for disabilities 

Get Active Victoria (2023) Resources 

HM (2002) Effects of Tai Chi exercise on balance, functional mobility, and fear of falling among older women. Applied Nursing Research. 15(4): 253-242 

Izquierdo M, Merchant RA, Morley JE, et al. (2021) International exercise recommendations in older adults (ICFSR): Expert consensus guidelines. The Journal of Nutrition, Health and Ageing. 25(7): 824-853 

Langhammer B, Bergland A, Rydwik E (2018) The importance of physical activity exercise among older people. Biomed Research International 

Lee YS (2005) Gender differences in physical activity and walking among older adults. Journal of Women and Aging. 17(1):55-70 

Nevo Zisin (n.d.) Finding Nevo 

Older Women’s Network NSW (2016) Not all our bits work perfectly, let’s look after the bits that still do: Enhancing the health and wellbeing of older women

Thomas E, Battaglia G, Patti A, et al. (2019) Physical activity programs for balance and fall prevention in elderly: a systematic review. Medicine (Baltimore). 98(27) 

UN Women (2023) Safe cities and safe public spaces – At a glance 

Wallbank G, Sherrington C, Hassett L, et al. (2020) Active women over 50 online information and support to promote physical activity behaviour change: study protocol for a pilot trial. Pilot Feasibility Studies. 6(91) 

Wallbank G, Sherrington C, Hassett L, et al. (2022) Active women over 50: promoting physical activity in women over 50: a randomized trial. American Journal of Health Promotion. 36(2): 305-309 

Wolf R, Locks P, Lopes PB, et al. (2020) Multicomponent exercise training improves gait ability of older women rather than strength training: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Ageing Research 

Women’s Health Victoria (2023) Victorian Women’s Health Atlas

World Health Organisation (2020) Guidelines on physical activity and sedentary behaviour