Never lose a chance to move — that has been the message for Americans from the latest guidelines. Regular physical activity is needed to maintain strength, ward off aches and pains, and reduce the risk of long-term diseases.
But the demands and limitations of your body tend to change over a lifetime. Here are a few tips on the best types of exercises and activities to take up no matter what age group you fall into.
Your teens and 20s
This is the period when you are at your peak physical condition — so establish workout habits and don’t hold back on challenging yourself. Fitness experts say this is when you should lay the foundations with a combination of aerobic exercise and strength training.
The latter, in particular, is often not prioritized enough during this crucial age. It is only during adolescence and early adulthood when you can have a significant influence on peak bone mass. So take up the likes of weight-training, tennis, hiking, etc. at least two days per week.
Your 30s and 40s
“For men and women, the 30s and 40s can be major career years,” said Lisa Westlake, a physiotherapist in Australia. “This means they may be busy at work and spending hours at the desk in poor posture.”
High-intensity interval training is an excellent option for those who are low on time and spend a lot of their day sitting. It can increase fat burning, build physical endurance, lower blood sugar, and many of the other benefits of traditional exercise.
Many begin reporting back pain during their 40s, a problem which can be addressed by strengthening your core i.e. pilates and exercises like the plank.
Your 50s and 60s
During these decades, you are not only at higher risk of experiencing aches but also chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Julie Broderick of Trinity College Dublin recommends ballroom dancing and brisk walking to stay active. (Dancing is also a good way to socialize and preserve good cognitive function.)
Older adults are also more prone to falls so it is a good idea to improve your balance and flexibility with low-impact activities such as tai chi and water aerobics.
Your 70s and beyond
Your priority now is to avoid falling into a state of constant inactivity. Past the age of 70, it is less about the “right” kind of exercise and more about making sure that you keep moving some way or the other.
It is best to speak to a doctor who can help design a plan suited for the individual and what they are capable of at this point, as noted by Wendi Carroll, a Sydney-based personal trainer. “You need to know your body’s limitations to know what to avoid. Some people can still run in their seventies, whereas others need to modify by taking up cycling or walking.”