Physical Activities to Maintain Overall Health at Different Age Groups
Now day’s physical activity is a significant and essential part of our lives for achieving optimum health and wellbeing. Physical activity simply means movement of the body that consumes energy. According to World Health Organization (WHO) physical activity is defined as ‘any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles which require energy expenditure’ (such as activities undertaken while working, playing, travelling, carrying out household chores, and engaging in recreational actions -dance, yoga).
It’s not like that only a particular type of physical activity will result in health benefits, but all forms of physical activity will provide similar health benefits; if done on a regular basis and for sufficient duration and good intensity.
We all know that doing physical activities is good for us. But it does much more than just improving our physical fitness. It reduces our risk of getting many diseases; such as cancer, diabetes or any heart related disease. It also helps in reducing stress, having a sound sleep, and improving our mental health. Because it does so much for us, it becomes very important to exercise no matter of what age you are. A lifelong exercise program is the surest way to help you live and thrive into old age.
Always remember to start slowly. Start with light or moderate intensity exercise for short periods of time. Make sure to spread out the physical activity sessions throughout the week. Increase the amount and intensity of the physical activity gradually over a period of weeks to months.
Secondly, always talk to your doctor if you have a chronic health condition (such as heart disease, arthritis, or diabetes) or symptoms (such as chest pain or pressure, dizziness, or joint pain) before starting a physical activity program.
Warm-up and Cool-down
It is important to incorporate a slow speed or low intensity activities at the beginning and end of your routine for properly warming up and cooling down your body. This process helps in preventing injuries and reducing muscle soreness. Examples of warming-up can be a walk briskly before jogging or lifting a lighter weight before completing the actual weight used during the weight training session. After completing a particular physical activity, gradually slowing down or lowering intensity helps the body cool down.
Benefits of doing regular and sufficient levels of physical activity:
- It helps in reducing the risk of coronary heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, stroke, various types of cancer (including breast cancer and colon cancer)
- Strengthens bones and joints hence helps in slowing down the progress of osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, and reducing the chances of fractures as age advances
- Helps in advance level of thinking, learning, and judgment skills. It also reduces the risk of depression and helps in getting better sleep
- Also improves functional ability for doing everyday activities
- Improving body balance and muscular coordination, and thereby reducing the risk of falling
- Helps in maintaining weight control and a healthier body mass
- Exhibits a higher level of cardio respiratory and muscular fitness
Path to Improved Health
Doing physical exercise is good for you no matter how old you are. It helps children to function properly in school. It helps in boosting brain power as you age. It helps in preventing falling you when you are older. There is always a room for exercise for everyone at every stage of theirs life.
1. Children & Teens (5-18yrs) –
Many kids get most of the exercise which they need just by being kids. They run around, climb, jump and play on a playground and generally are involved in doing physical activities throughout the day. Just make sure the child is getting at least 1 hour of physical activity (moderate to vigorous-intensity) each and every day. Aim to spread these activities throughout the day rather than doing them in just one go. When entering the teenage phase, a lot of children get interested in playing sports. It could be either for their school or a recreation program. Always encourage their participation so they can be active. If they don’t want to play an organized sport, they can opt for cycling with friends or playing football in the common society ground. Vigorous-intensity activities should be incorporated, including those that strengthen muscle and bone, at least 3 times per week for atleast 1 hour daily.
2. 20s –
2. 20s –
When you’re in your 20s, your body is quite strong and resilient. This is the perfect time to build a foundation of fitness. Develop exercise as a habit. Make it a regular part of your life. So when you grow older it will be easier to keep it going. You can either play sports with friends, such as tennis or basketball, or go for cycling or a swim. Your options for choosing a physical activity are endless. You should try to exercise at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Remember, as you age, you tend to lose muscle mass and bone strength. So be sure to include strength training as part of your routine in your 20’s. That way losing a little muscle mass down the road won’t hurt you. Do muscle-strengthening exercises 2 to 3 days a week. Or you can also divide as 30 minute of weight training followed by 30 min of cardio, 3 times a week plus a 45 to 60 minute of straight cardio 3 times a week. Rest one day.
When we hit our 30s, due to aging our body starts losing muscle mass. This makes weight training especially important during this time. Join a gym and start lifting weights, or you can get some resistance bands & weights and look up videos on the internet for exercises at home. Our bones also start to weaken as we get older. Therefore this is also a good time to start focusing on exercises for bone strengthening. Make sure that you make weight-bearing activities part of your exercise routine. This can include jogging, brisk walking, or doing yoga. This age period is also a good time for experimenting with different kinds of workouts. Doing something new helps you in challenging new muscle groups. It also helps keep your workouts from getting dull and boring. If you normally walk for exercise, try taking an aerobics class. Are you an avid biker? Try swimming or dancing instead. Try to mix it up to keep things interesting and your workouts well-rounded.
This is the time of your life when it is very crucial to have a proper exercise routine. Our bodies naturally start to decline in middle age. Our muscles also start to lose mass and elasticity. This in total slows down our metabolism and makes it easier to gain weight, especially around the abdomen. During this age time, both men and women begin experiencing drops in their hormone levels also. This kind of weight gain increases your risk of developing health problems, which can include diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Exercise is the best way to fight all these changes. Keep up with your cardio workouts, 3 to 5 times a week. If you have pain in your joints, switch to low-impact activities for sometimes. However keep in mind that weight-bearing activities, such as walking or jumping, are equally important during this time. Such activities help you in maintaining strong bones and fighting age-related bone loss. Be sure to keep up your muscle-strengthening routines, as well. One hour of weight training 3 days a week if you do your whole body at once (4 days for half an hour if you split it up), plus 45 minutes of cardio five days a week (it’s more than in the 20s and 30s but with less impact and intensity). Take one day off.
In your 50s, you may start experiencing more aches and pains on a daily/weekly basis. Don’t let these stop you from performing your exercises. Just adapt your exercise program. Low-impact activities such as slow-walking, biking, or swimming generally are said to go easy on joints. Try reducing the intensity and exercise more often instead. During this time, you’ll also have to fight your body’s natural tendency to bend forward. Strengthen your core by focusing on the muscles in your abdomen and your back. This will help your body to stand up straight and fight the bend. Do 4 to 6 cardio sessions a week, 20 to 30 minutes each, with an intensity which lets you answer a simple question (in a word like yes or no) but doesn’t allow to chat, plus half an hour of weight training twice a week, 8 to 12 repetitions of each exercise, or 15 to 20 using lighter weights. Always remember to stretch after your activity.
In the 60s, problems like bad knees, arthritis and spinal stenosis (a narrowing of the spaces between bones that can put painful pressure on the spinal cord) become very common for people. But aches and pains shouldn’t be an excuse for giving up on exercise. This is the time when you should start focusing on preventing your falls. Carry on with your aerobic exercise regimen. Try to get atleast 15-20 minutes of good cardio activity 5 times a week, such as a slow jog. Lift weights or use resistance training 2 to 3 times a week to keep your muscles and bones strong. Use lighter weights and in slower and more controlled movements combined with slow and sustained stretching. Walk whenever possible, and do balance exercises daily and start working on balance. The National Institutes of Health recommends daily exercises to help you improve and maintain your balance. These include standing on one foot, leg raises, and walking heel to toe. Practice these things now to fight balance problems later on.
In your 70s and beyond that, you need to maintain your strength and flexibility. This will give you more years of being able to function and be independent. Continue getting aerobic exercise every week, whether it is water aerobics or walking. Continue doing balance exercises to keep from falling and to keep you bones strong and sturdy. Devote extra time to warming up and cooling down so you don’t hurt your muscles. And remember to stretch every day to maintain your flexibility.
So let’s be active everyone, everywhere and every day!