With people living longer, it is pleasing to learn that people aged 75 and over are almost 90% more likely to be physically active than they were in 2011-12, with the proportion undertaking 150+ minutes of exercise increasing to almost 50%.

Tim Hicks, Bolton Clarke’s Executive General Manager, Policy and Advocacy, has crunched data from the ABS National Health Survey and concluded almost 65% of Australians aged 65-74 are meeting the 150-minute criteria, or 30 minutes of activity five times a week.

The survey defines physical activity as a combination of exercise and workplace activity, while exercise consists of walking for transport, walking for fitness, sport or recreation, moderate exercise and/or vigorous exercise.

The figures appear to be good news, not only for older people but all for the village and aged care operators that help to keep their residents moving.

“This looks like a big deal to me, given how vital activity is in maintaining functional health. A big win for public health messages. And all the effort that aged care workers, nurses, doctors, OTs, physio, lifestyle staff, retirement villages and many others put into supporting people to stay active,” Tim said.

But is it on the money?

Tim’s data is at odds with a Physical Activity report from the Government’s Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), updated in May 2023, which states:

“Based on the latest available data, it is estimated that nearly 9 in 10 (87%) adults aged 65 and over did not meet the physical activity component and the muscle-strengthening component of the Guidelines.”  

The Guidelines state people over 65 should be active on most, preferably all days with at least 30 minutes of moderate activity per day; incorporate muscle strengthening activities, be as active as possible. 

“Exercise is the only ‘aged care service’ that can improve health, prevent falls and prolong independence, but it remains under-utilised by the aged care sector. Aged Care providers must change the way they deliver care,” Dr Tim Henwood, Group Manager, Research & Development, Southern Cross Care (SA, NT & VIC), said in response to Tim’s post.

What can we learn? 

Exercise – and physical activity – is still the best ‘medicine’ and can add years of improved health to your retirement.

Retirement villages offer a range of weekly exercise activities, such as Step aerobics, water aerobics, Tai chi, yoga, and chair-based exercises plus tennis courts, swimming pools and bowls, with some now offering pickleball.

To find out more, visit Villages.com.au.