Upping the ante: working harder to address physical inactivity in older adults

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Purpose of review

Physical inactivity in older adults is associated with declining functional capacity, sarcopenia, metabolic changes, and cognitive changes. Current Physical Activity Guidelines recommend 150 min of moderate-intensity exercise along with strengthening and balance exercises. Despite the guidelines there is little evidence of a population-based change in physical activity.

Recent findings

There is a growing body of research investigating the use of high-intensity interval training in older adult to improve health-related outcomes. Research indicates that high-intensity interval training confers greater benefit than moderate-intensity exercise and is acceptable and safe for older adults and those with various noncommunicable diseases.


A major challenge to health systems is the growing number of people surviving into older age, many of whom have more than one noncommunicable disease. Physical inactivity is a modifiable risk factor for the development of noncommunicable diseases. Increasing participation in physical activity interventions, particularly those at a high intensity, appears to be a safe and feasible approach to reducing the demand on healthcare systems into the future.

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