Stay Active

Walking for people over the age of 50

Healthy eating and regular exercise are two of the best ways to improve the quality of life for over 50s. And it helps even if you start late in life.

Not being active is a large part of why our health deteriorates after 50.

If you're not doing any activity, you may like to take up walking. Start slow and gradually build your fitness. Seek medical advice if necessary.

Walking is a low impact exercise and great for conditioning our heart and lungs. Walking regularly at a pace brisk enough that you can just hold a conversation cuts your risk of a range of chronic health conditions - such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, bowel cancer, breast cancer, and prostate cancer.

Walking is not enough

While walking is very good exercise, as we get older we need to protect more than just our cardiovascular system. Ideally we should try to combine walking with at least one other form of activity, such as

  • dance or tai chi - for balance, coordination, concentration and attention
  • yoga - for stretching and flexibility
  • weight training - to build muscle strength

It seems many older Australians do only one activity and risk missing out on some important health benefits.

What exercise are people doing?

Recent studies confirm that walking is the most popular form of physical activity for people over the age of 50.

  • walking (44 per cent)
  • bowls (9.4 per cent)
  • aerobics/callisthenics (9.1 per cent)
  • golf (7.7 per cent)
  • swimming (6.4 per cent)
  • gym workouts (5.2 per cent)
  • dancing (4.1 per cent)
  • cycling (3.2 per cent)
  • tennis (2.9 per cent)
  • fishing (2.0 per cent)
  • tai chi (1.4 per cent)
  • yoga (1.1 per cent)

Popular Male Activities

For those who did two activities in the past 12 months, the most common combinations for men were walking with either

  • golf (13 per cent)
  • bowls (8.1 per cent)
  • swimming (6.8 per cent)
  • cycling (6.4 per cent)

Popular Female Activities

The most common combinations for women were walking with

  • aerobics/callisthenics (7.3 per cent)
  • swimming (5.5 per cent)
  • dancing (5.8 per cent)
  • bowls (3.7 per cent)