How to do the right exercise for your age


The effect of exercise on health is profound. It can protect you from a number of conditions, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. But the type and amount of exercise you need to do changes as you get older. To ensure that you are doing the right kind of exercise for your age, follow this simple guide.

Childhood and adolescence

In childhood, exercise helps control body weight, builds healthy bones, and promotes self-confidence and healthy sleep patterns. It is recommended that children receive at least one hour of exercise per day. As a tip:

  • Children should try out a variety of sports and develop skills such as swimming and the ability to hit and kick a ball.

  • Many unplanned physical activities are also great, like playing on playgrounds.

Exercise habits tend to decrease steadily during adolescence, especially in girls. Sufficient exercise promotes a healthy body image and helps control stress and anxiety. You can also:

  • Encourage teenagers to maintain a team sport if possible.

  • For teens who are not into team sports, swimming or athletics can be a good way to maintain fitness levels.

In his 20 years

You are at your absolute physical peak in your mid-20s, with the fastest reaction times and the highest peak VO2 – the maximum rate at which the body can pump oxygen to the muscles. After this peak, your VO2 max decreases by up to 1% each year and your reaction time decreases every year. The good news is that regular physical activity can slow this decline. The formation of lean muscle mass and bone density at this age helps to retain them in subsequent years.

  • Vary your training and keep it entertaining. Try tag rugby, rowing or boot camp.

  • If you are a regular exerciser, seek guidance from an exercise professional to build a "periodization" into your training regimen. 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 the maximum of a planned exercise event, such as a triathlon.

In his 30 years

As careers and family life for many intensify in their 30s, it is important that you maintain your cardiovascular fitness and strength to decrease your normal physical decline. If you have a sedentary job, maintain a good posture and divide up long periods of activity, forcing the activity into your day, such as forwarding your printer to another room, climbing a flight of stairs to use the bathroom on another floor or standing up when you receive a phone call, so you'll be moving every half hour when possible.

  • Smart work. Try a high intensity interval training. It is where explosions of high-intensity activity, up to 80% of your maximum heart rate, such as running and cycling, are interrupted with periods of low-intensity exercise. This type of workout is good for poor weather, as it can be done in 20 minutes.

  • For all women, and especially after childbirth, do exercises for the pelvic floor, 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 his 40 years

Most people start gaining weight at age 40. Resistance exercise is the best way to optimize calorie burning to neutralize fat accumulation and reverse the loss of 3% to 8% of muscle mass per decade. Ten weeks of resistance training could increase lean weight by 1.4 kg, increase resting metabolic rate by 7% and decrease fat weight by 1.8 kg.

  • Try kettlebells or start a weight training program in your gym.

  • Take the race if you do not run, and do not be afraid to start a more intensive exercise program. You make more money by running against the walk.

  • Pilates can be helpful in building core strength to protect against back pain, which often begins in this decade.

In his 50 years

In this decade, pain and pain may arise and chronic conditions, such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, may manifest. As estrogen decreases in postmenopausal women, the risk of heart disease increases.

  • Do strength training twice a week to maintain your muscle mass.

  • Weighing exercises such as walking are recommended. Walk fast enough that your breathing rate increases and you sweat.

  • Try something different. Tai chi can be excellent for balance and relaxation.

In his 60 years

Typically, people accumulate more chronic conditions as they get older, and aging is an important risk factor for cancer. Maintaining a high level of physical activity can help prevent cancers such as postmenopausal breast cancer, colon cancer and uterine cancer, and reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Physical activity tends to decrease with age, so stay active and try to avoid that tendency.

  • Try ballroom dancing or other forms of dance; is a fun and sociable way of exercising.

  • 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.

70's and beyond

Exercising in your 70s or more helps prevent frailty and falls, and is important for your cognitive function. If you have a period of health problems, try to keep the cell phone if possible. Strength and physical fitness can decrease quickly if you are bedridden or very inactive, which can make it difficult to return to previous levels.

  • Walk and talk. Instead of inactive visits from family and friends, take a walk together. It will keep you motivated and increase your health more than solitary exercise.

  • Incorporate some strength, balance and cardiovascular exercise into your regimen. But get advice from a physical therapist or other exercise professional, especially if you have several chronic conditions.

The main message is to move forward throughout your life. Sustained exercise is what most benefits health.

Julie Broderick is an assistant professor of physiotherapy at Trinity College Dublin. This article was first published by The Conversation Africa and can be accessed here.


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