News & Media

Age and exercise – does it really matter?

21 August 2019

The thought of exercise can make a lot of people groan. We hear the word ‘exercise’ and we often picture marathon runners or body builders or ultra-fit people who seem to defy all limits and whose energy never seems to fade.

Most of us know we need to keep moving our bodies if we want to maintain good health. But do you know just how much exercise you should be fitting into your day, every day? We’ve asked our exercise physiologist Jordan McMillan to break down just how long and how intensely we should be exercising each day, based on how old we are.

KIDS AND TEENS (5-17 YEARS OLD)

Kids playing games on the field

No surprises here. Kids and teens are full of energy and should be getting at least an hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity each and every day. On the flip side of that, they should be getting plenty of sleep too (no matter how much you envy those sleep-ins).

Try to encourage your kids to play outside, try news sports and to take up active hobbies so they learn to love exercise from a young age. Kids and teens should be doing plenty of aerobic (running, swimming, cycling) activities most days of the week with at least three days of muscle and bone strengthening exercises.

Remember it’s all about balance: sleep plays a vital role in your child’s development. Introduce consistent times for your child to go to bed and wake up. We recommend an uninterrupted 9-11 hours a night for kids aged 5 to 13 years, or 8-10 hours’ uninterrupted sleep for teens aged 14-17 years.

ADULTS (18-65 YEARS OLD)

Woman stretching

Adults should aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day. You might break this up into three blocks of 10 minutes if you’re super busy, or you could wake up a little earlier each day or use your lunch break to fit your exercise in.

Try a couple of strength-based sessions each week and combine these with cardio sessions, such as walking, running, swimming, cycling, netball or tennis – the world is your oyster.

Some is better than none and there’s no better time to start than tomorrow!

If you haven’t exercised before, we do recommend you seek advice from your GP.

ADULTS (65 YEARS AND OLDER)

Walking

Exercising for at least 30 minutes a day should remain a priority even as we get older. Regardless of your age, weight, health conditions or ability, there will be some form of exercise or intensity you’ll be able to do.

We recommend people aged 65 and older aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week. A combination of aerobic fitness, strength-based sessions, balance and flexibility is a great way to stay active and have fun while doing so.

Older people who have enjoyed a lifetime of vigorous exercise can continue their fitness regime, but we do recommend you listen to your body and always adhere to all health and safety advice you receive from the experts (your GP and/or exercise physiologist). If you’ve stopped exercising or you’re starting a new sport/activity, it’s good to start small and gradually build up to the recommended duration, intensity and frequency.

And once again, if you need advice or you’re not sure where to start, speak to a healthcare professional, like your GP or an exercise physiologist.