Exercising through the decades

In your 20s media, celebrities faddy diets and cheap gym memberships often lead to endless cardio sessions and hard core 'beat you up' sessions where the trainer leaves you gasping for breath! Or for the boys late night weights only gym sessions 5 times a week.  

Laying the foundation for future fitness is essential, build strength, a solid steady state cardio base and experience different programmes to keep the mind and body healthy and stress free.  

Ditch the faddy diets junk food and excessive gruelling sessions, instead aim to exercise 3 - 5 times a week combining cardio, weight training, yoga and core strength. 

Pelvic floor awareness is an area of much neglect at this age ( after all only postnatal mums should be concerned right? Err Wrong - It’s not just pregnancy or birth which can affect pelvic function.  

Team competitive tyre flips and heavy dead lifts for example create intra-abdominal pressure from holding the breath which forces the pressure down on the pelvic floor.  

In your 30s mix it up, be prepared to change. A time when juggling the pressure of work with or without children can lead to an increase of stress. If you do not change your routine, overuse injuries occur and progression can be lost. Take for example a runner who only runs, a swimmer who only swims...postural imbalances can occur leading to tight muscles and injury. 

Try a combination of both throughout the week. Add a stretch routine and start making positive steps for the future. 

When we have children, postural changes occur and can have lasting effects if not addressed. Rounded shoulders, back problems, weak abdominal and Pelvic floor muscles. 

Aim to exercise 4 -5 times a week, include PFE, core stability exercises weight training and steady cardio, which will increase endorphins (happy hormone) and reduce cortisol levels (stress hormone). Try starting a running group after school drop off or a local exercise class.  

In your 40s, your effort will be rewarded if you continue to make exercise part of your routine. Maintain postural balance include Yoga, and Pilates with aerobic exercise 4 times a week. It’s now time to crank up the weight training. Muscle mass continues to decline and although your weight may stay the same can give the appearance of reduced tone. 2 x 30 minute sessions a week concentrating on upper body, lower body back and abs. Add quick plyometric exercises to improve functional movement patterns, attend outdoor fitness classes, sprints, bounding, high knees and hops. 

In your 50s, great gains can be made in any area if priority is placed on a consistent routine. It’s never too late to exercise. Aerobic fitness can feel daunting when you’re told to do 4 x 30 minute to 1hour long cardio sessions a week.  Add daily activity to start with, taking the stairs walking instead of taking the car. Find a local aerobic/dance class or start working out with your partner great fun!  

Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones become less dense and more likely to fracture a sometimes silent condition - continue to perform regular weight bearing exercises and include weight training to your routine is recommendation. Contraindications include: high impact exercise and forward bending movements. 

In your 60s,  If you have regularly been active continue to do so, although aches and pains can rear their ugly head, listen to your body  don’t push yourself without properly warming up and remain doing weight training, Make time to stretch and concentrate on areas of tension. Correct rounded shoulders and tight chest muscles by performing stretch routines.  

Osteoarthritis often confused with osteoporosis is a degenerative bone condition which can make exercise more painful. OA usually develops in the joints often as a result of overuse injury, repetitive exercise in our formative years or from carrying extra weight.  

Enjoying a sedentary lifestyle will not help long term health. Tai Chi, walking and yoga are all excellent activities to perform. Insert in a cheap pedometer and aim for the recommended 10000 steps a day. 

In your 70s, functional movement is a priority, muscle endurance, strength and balance can decline and for some osteoarthritis can make everyday movements more painful. It’s important to maintain strong muscles of the legs shoulders and back. Use resistance bands instead of weights, Tai Chi, walking and therapeutic yoga are all excellent activities to continue. Home exercises should include sit to stand trying not to use your hands. Daily activity is vital; working out with friends weekly (such as chair aerobics) can encourage an active social life and continue doing 10000 steps per day.  

Kate Campbell