National physical activity recommendations for older Australians: Discussion Document

9. Physical activity considerations for population sub-groups

The National Ageing Research Institute was commissioned by The Department of Health and Ageing to review the evidence and develop physical activity recommendations for older people.

Page last updated: 01 February 2011

In this Chapter, we discuss the evidence for physical activity interventions conducted across a range of older people, including the chronologically ‘old-old’, frail older people, those with disabilities and those with one or more of the health conditions covered by the National Health Priority Areas.

The WHO Heidelberg guidelines (1997) identify three groups of older people along the health-fitness gradient:

    • the physically fit-healthy
    • the physically unfit-unhealthy but independent living and
    • the physically unfit- unhealthy and dependent individuals.
To these categories, we would add :
    • the physically unfit yet currently healthy.
Within each of these categories, people may be either sedentary or physically active. Health benefits can be gained by older people in any of these groups, although the types and intensity of physical activity will differ between groups.

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