Exercise Right in the New Year
With the new year just around the corner, most people will have set new year’s resolutions around their health and fitness. But how much exercise is the right amount for me and how do I get started?
In Australia, half of adults and two-thirds of children don’t get enough exercise. This is an alarming statistic that has contributed to the rising levels of obesity in Australia and around the world. Many people don’t know the great benefits of being physically active and aren’t familiar with how to start. This blog will outline the many benefits of exercise and discuss some strategies for meeting the physical activity guidelines for each age group.
Why should we exercise?
Getting started with a new exercise program can be daunting, especially if you have never exercised before. But there are loads of benefits meeting the national physical activity guidelines, I will outline a few of the big ones now:
- Increased strength and muscle mass
- Improved cardiovascular fitness and health
- Reduction in body fat
- Improved mental health and mood
- Better sleep
As you can see from just this small list of benefits, exercise can have a profound impact on your health and wellbeing. But how much exercise do I need to get all these benefits? There are guidelines set for 3 age groups, Children and Young People (5-17 years), Adults (18-64 years), and Older Adults (65 years +). We will go through the recommendations for each group and some tips and tricks for increasing your activity.
*Disclaimer: These are guidelines only, for individual advice please contact an exercise physiologist for a full assessment and individualised recommendations.
Children and Young People (5-17 years)
Times have changed with technology ruling the day! Less than a quarter of children now meet the national recommendations for daily exercise. Children and young people should be aiming to achieve the following:
- 60 minutes per day of physical activity, with at least some of that being high intensity
- 3 days per week of exercise which will strengthen muscle and bone
- Research shows that children can safely engage in strength training that is prescribed by a professional. If exercise is performed safely, it should not have any impact on their growth or development.
Tips for exercising for children:
- Play a sport: this is a great way for kids to be active on multiple days of the week while also building social skills and learning to be part of a team environment.
- After school walks with the family: get the whole family active and go for an afternoon/evening walk
Adults (18-64 years)
Healthy adults should be aiming to achieve the following exercise targets weekly:
- 150 minutes per week of aerobic exercise (running, walking, swimming, cycling etc.) with this spread across most or all days of the week.
- Exercises that strengthen muscles on 2 days of the week
- Something is better than nothing! If you aren’t currently exercising, then start small and build up to the recommended amounts.
Tips for meeting the guidelines:
- Find something that you enjoy: the best way to build a long-term exercise habit is to find a way to exercise that you like and work around that. This could be going to the gym, running, or playing a sport.
- Break your exercise up into small sections throughout the day: for a lot of people 3 ten-minute walks might be more achievable that a 30-minute walk in the morning
- Involve the family/friends: exercising as a family means that you all get healthier, and you get to spend time together
Older Adults (65 years +)
Older people should do some form of exercise regardless of their age, health, or weight to ensure healthy aging.
- Aim for 30 minutes of physical activity on most or all days of the week
- Complete exercise with the goal of increasing or maintaining strength and muscle mass 1-2 times per week.
- Include exercises to improve balance (make sure this is done safely)
- Being physically active will help you get the most out of life regardless of your age. Keep as active as you can throughout the day doing things you enjoy. This could be gardening, walking with friends or family, or playing lawn bowls or golf.
- Make sure you choose safe options for exercises with consideration taken for any health conditions you may have.
Being physically active has so many benefits to your health, and often the hardest part is starting. If you need help, or you have health conditions that require more specific advice, you can call us on 1300 738 609 or book an appointment online with one of our exercise physiologists.