The effect of exercise on health is profound. It can protect you from a range of conditions, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. But the type and amount of exercise you should do changes as you age. To ensure that you are doing the right type of exercise for your age, follow this simple guide.
- Children should try a variety of sports and develop skills, such as swimming and the ability to hit and kick a ball.
- Lots of non-scheduled physical activity is great, too, such as playing in playgrounds.
- Encourage teenagers to keep one team sport, if possible.
- For teenagers who are not into team sports, swimming or athletics can be a good way to keep fitness levels up.
In your 20s
- Vary your training and keep it fun. Try tag rugby, rowing or boot camp.
- If you are a regular exerciser, get advice from an exercise professional to build “periodization” into your training regime. This involves dividing your training regime into progressive cycles that manipulate different aspects of training — such as intensity, volume and type of exercise — to optimize your performance and ensure you peak for a planned exercise event, such as a triathlon.
In your 30s
- Work smart. Try high-intensity interval training. This is where bursts of high-intensity activity, up to 80% of your maximum heart rate, such as sprinting and cycling, are broken up with periods of lower-intensity exercise. This kind of workout is good for the time poor as it can be done in 20 minutes.
- For all women, and especially after childbirth, do pelvic floor exercises, sometimes known as Kegel exercises daily to help prevent incontinence.
- Diversify your exercise program to keep it interesting. Try boot camp, spin class or yoga.
In your 40s
- Try kettlebells or start a weight-training program in your gym.
- Take up running, if you don’t run already, and don’t be afraid to start a more intensive exercise program. You get more bang for your buck with running versus walking.
- Pilates can be useful to build core strength to protect against back pain, which often starts in this decade.
In your 50s
- Do strength training twice a week to maintain your muscle mass.
- Weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, is recommended. Walk fast enough so that your breathing rate increases and you break a sweat.
- Try something different. Tai chi can be excellent for balance and relaxation.
In your 60s
- Try ballroom dancing or other forms of dancing; it’s a fun and sociable way to exercise.
- Incorporate strength and flexibility exercises twice a week. Aqua-aerobics can be a great way to develop strength using water as resistance.
- Maintain cardiovascular exercise, such as brisk walking.
70s and beyond
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- Walk and talk. Instead of inactive visits from family and friends, go for a walk together. It will keep you motivated and boost your health more than solitary exercise.
- Incorporate some strength, balance and cardiovascular exercise in your regime. But get advice from a physiotherapist or other exercise professional, especially if you have several chronic conditions.
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