How to Exercise as We Age

As we age, our bodies change and the types of activities that are safe and effective change.  Regular physical activity is one of the best things we can do to stay healthy and live longer.  There are guidelines that recommend the types of activities and the length of those activities to keep us fit.  Here are some guidelines broken down by age:

3-5 years

As a young child, physical activity is really just active play throughout the day.  This type of play is not timed, but should occur throughout the day and should be intermittent with resting time.

6 -17 years

As an adolescent, there should be at least 60 minutes of physical exercise daily.  On at least three days of the week the 60-minute physical activity should vigorous activity, muscle strengthening activities, and bone strengthening activities.

18-64 years

As an adult, you need 150 minutes of activity a week and at least 2 days where the activity strengthens muscles.  The activity you choose depends on your physical fitness ability. You may go hiking, running, or just perform some brisk walking. In your 20s, cross training is a great way to workout, because your muscles can take the change up from different muscle group workouts.

65+ years

As an older adult, you still need 150 minutes of activity a week and at least 2 days where activity strengthens muscles, but you should also incorporate improving balance. This can be achieved by standing on one foot for a bit of time throughout the day.  As you age, resistance training is one of the best options to keep your body performing well.  Great options are wall pushups, hip bridges, and squats.

Types of Exercise

There are many types of exercise you can perform, but they are broken down into four main categories.  The categories are aerobic, strength training, stretching, and balance. 


Aerobic exercise activities involve an increase in breathing and cardiac rate.  This type of exercise gets your blood pumping and gets calories burning.  Running, brisk walking, bicycling, swimming, and hiking are great ways to get aerobic exercise.  Aerobic exercise lowers cholesterol, blood pressure, and improves your mood.

Strength Training

Strengthening exercises help to rebuild muscle that starts to deteriorate as we age.  Weight lifting and resistance band training can improve your strength.  Strength building is done to stimulate bone growth, improve balance, and help with weight maintenance. 


Flexibility decreases as we age and by performing stretching exercises, like yoga, you can keep the flexibility in your body.  Flexibility prevents strains, joint pain, and muscle cramps.  Keeping your body flexible also helps with everyday movements.


Balance exercises are very important when you are aging.  Balance is what keeps us from falling as we age.  Yoga is another great way to improve your balance and prevent the loss of balance systems as we age.  Performing leg exercises are a great way to improve balance and also strengthen the muscles that are involved in protecting you from a fall.

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