Cardio and strength training are essential to a healthy life—no matter what your age.
Exercise is not just for the young. Or the old. Fact is, all ages need to exercise, and there are no dividing lines in terms of what different age groups can do when it comes to getting fit, says Sandra Curwin, a licensed physiotherapist in Halifax.
The first step to exercising effectively, regardless of age, is attaining 60-75% of your maximum heart rate. (You can identify your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220.) This rate will, of course, vary across age groups. “Your maximum heart rate changes as you get older, which means a 60-year-old will be exercising less to attain (the optimal heart rate),” says Curwin.
She also recommends individuals of all ages who are just starting an exercise program focus on achieving 60% of their maximum heart rate and work up from there as they continue to work out.
For those who find it too difficult or inconvenient to measure their own heart rate (count your pulse beats for 10 seconds and multiply by 6), there is something called “rating of perceived exertion” that works just as well. “This is when you are working hard but still able to talk,” says Curwin. Research shows this is the equivalent of the optimal heart rate you want for a workout. Of course, working hard for a 20-year-old will not be the same as for a 70-year-old.
In addition, noted Curwin, as people of all ages become fitter their rating of perceived exertion will change. What would have required a lot of exertion at one point will feel less rigorous as you exercise more often.
The second step in exercising effectively is strength training – a must for all ages but especially older individuals because the body loses muscle tone as it ages. Curwin recommends exercises to strengthen all the major muscle groups including hips, thighs, claves and shoulders. Exercise for 20-30 minutes three times a week doing two sets of 10-15 repetitions. “If you can lift a weight more than 15 times, then it is not enough weight,” says Curwin.
No matter what your age.