Despite the benefits of exercise, a large percentage of the older population in South Africa continue to lead sedentary lifestyles. This study aimed to determine the effects of a structured group exercise programme on functional fitness of older persons living in old-age homes. A quasi-experimental design was used to compare the effects of a 12-week group exercise programme. Twenty participants each were selected from five old-age homes. Participants were randomly allocated into either an experimental group or a comparison group at each site. The experimental group participated in the exercise intervention three times weekly, while the comparison group received the same intervention twice weekly for 12 weeks. The intervention programme included warm-up, balance, endurance, resistance and cool-down components. Assessments of upper and lower body strength and flexibility, aerobic endurance, agility and balance were conducted before and after the intervention programme using the Senior Functional Test. Comparisons of baseline and post-intervention measures showed greater improvements in upper and lower body strength and flexibility, as well as aerobic endurance capacity (p <0.05). Training frequency revealed no significant difference in functional fitness measures between both groups following the 12-week intervention programme. Twelve weeks of multifaceted group exercise training, at least twice a week, can be used as an effective strategy to promote functional fitness in this population.