The best exercise for your age

Here’s how to tailor exercise to suit your age.
Published 28 October 2015

Tailor your fitness to your age

In your teens…

Exercise has to be enjoyable, especially for teenagers, as it helps them to establish lifelong habits. Physical activity should be a positive outlet for teenagers, not a form of punishment, so try some of these ideas:

  • Weekly: Get a mixed group of friends together for a weekly social game of tennis, basketball or soccer.
  • Seasonal: Join a different competitive sport each summer and winter. Team sports are also good for confidence and for developing social skills.
  • Daily: Incorporate incidental exercise into daily routines by riding to school, exercising the family pet, walking to the bus stop, train station or shops.
  • Yearly: Ask for active birthday and Christmas gifts such as surf lessons, dance classes or a new bike.

Top choice: Team sports

In your 20s…

In your 20s, you’re likely to have a bit of spare cash and extra time, so you can probably afford to splurge a little on your choice of exercise. You might like to try a 1 on 1 exercise session, gym membership or booking the occasional active weekend escape. Other ways to stay active and maintain your fitness might include:

  • Socialise and exercise at the same time with group exercise or dance classes, barefoot bowls or bootcamp.
  • Train for specific goals such as a fun run, half-marathon, charity distance event or triathlon.
  • Set up exercise opportunities within your work place such as a regular lunchtime power walk, touch footy matches or revitalising yoga breaks.

Top choice: High-intensity cardio

In your 30s…

Your 30s can be one of the most challenging and change-filled decades of your life. Your career might be taking off, your relationships developing and you might be thinking about starting a family. Manage your time and make the most of your lifestyle by:

  • Blocking out exercise dates during the week.
  • Setting fitness challenges and goals to strive towards.
  • Catching up with friends for a walk instead of a drink.
  • If you’re a new mum, postnatal exercise can resume after your six-week check-up and may need to include the baby too – for example, a mums-and-bubs yoga class, walks with baby in a front pack or joining a child-friendly exercise class or gym, for example one with crèche facilities.

Top choice: Interval training

In your 40s…

Time is probably tight for you this decade, while you’re juggling family and/or work life, so exercise needs to fit in easily.

  • It may work best to get your exercise done first thing in the morning by getting up early and going for a walk, jog, ride or swim before anyone or anything has the chance to distract you.
  • Alternatively, if you only have the opportunity to exercise during school hours, try doing regular exercise after the school drop-off, like a 9.30am Spin class, gym workout, power walk or run.

Top choice: Combine cardio and resistance work

In your 50s…

This may be the first time you’ve had the chance to think about what exercise you’d really like to do, rather than doing whatever exercise fits in best with others or a busy schedule.

  • Consider taking up something you’ve always wanted to try but have never had the time to commit to, such as tennis lessons, dance classes, a yoga course or Pilates.
  • Exercise is important as it helps alleviate menopausal symptoms, boost wellbeing and helps control weight.

Top choice: Weight-bearing exercise

In your 60s…

In your 60s, exercise should be about participation more than competition. It’s about giving things a go and not necessarily winning. The more you do, the better you’ll feel.

  • Take up a weekly planned activity and join a group or class such as tai chi, line dancing or aqua aerobics.
  • Try to be physically active every day by walking as much as possible, using the stairs and continuing to do labour intensive things around the house, like washing the car or cleaning windows.

Top choice: Light resistance with weights in a gym, at home and in the water

When you’re 70+

As the saying goes, ‘use it or lose it’. It’s so important to keep exercising now because if you let your routine go, it’ll be harder to become active again.

  • There are many ways you can be active whether it’s through planned activities such as bowls and golf or incidental activities like walking, cleaning, housework and gardening.
  • Choose something that you can manage easily and intersperse the regular, planned activities you have in the diary with daily incidental movement.

Top choice: Walking