26 May Movement is medicine for every stage of life
This Exercise Right Week, we want to remind Aussies that “Movement is Medicine” for ALL stages of life. From kids to older Australians, from parents to grandparents, the benefits of living an active lifestyle cannot be understated. We hope that by sharing the far reaching health benefits of exercise for each stage of life, Aussies will start to think of exercise as less of a chore or weight loss tool, and see it for what it is: a vital component for your physical, mental and social well-being.
So, how much exercise is right for your stage of life? Let’s take a look…
Movement is medicine for kids
The benefits of physical activity start early in life. Being active can help your child in many ways, including:
- Healthier bones, muscles and joints
- Healthier heart and lungs
- Better coordination, strength and muscle control
- Maintenance of a healthy body weight
- Increased flexibility
- Better balance and posture
- Improved brain development
- Better concentration and thinking skills
So, how much exercise do kids need?
Physical activity guidelines for kids
Kids over five should aim to accumulate 60 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day (involving mainly aerobic activities) and should do several hours of a variety of light physical activities.
Activities that are vigorous, as well as those that strengthen muscle and bone should be incorporated at least 3 days per week.
It’s also important to break up long periods of sitting as often as possible and limit sedentary recreational screen time to no more than 2 hours per day.
Keeping kids active at home
Current self-isolation restrictions mean that many kids are spending much more time at home, and parents are increasingly struggling to keep their children active. We’ve created a range of resources to help parents keep their kids moving. There’s a range of free home exercise videos and downloadable exercise circuits and you can try at home. Check them our below:
Exercise circuits for kids:
Exercise Right for Kids
Children should not be held back from being physically active because of any condition, disability or injury. In fact, exercise can play an important role in helping them manage their quality of life and help ease or treat their condition.
Exercise Right for Kids has been developed to help inform parents, coaches, teachers, friends and family of children who may be living with, or at risk of, a chronic condition to exercise safely for a healthier life.
Each condition comes with individual traits and complexities, hence the importance for children to exercise right for who they are. It’s crucial that you get in touch with your local Accredited Exercise Physiologist who can provide expert care and exercise prescription for your child’s condition and physical activity needs.
Click here to access Exercise Right for Kids.
Movement is medicine for teens
Aussie teens are getting increasingly inactive, and it’s setting them up for trouble later in life. Low levels of physical activity in adolescence can translate to higher risks of developing chronic conditions (like diabetes) in early adulthood. Being inactive can also have a detrimental impact on the mental health of young Australians. Currently, one in seven young people aged under 17 experiences a mental health condition in any given year.
Adolescents who are more active enjoy a range of health benefits, including:
- Improved mental health outcomes
- More energy
- Better focus
- Stronger muscles and bones
- Improved self-esteem and confidence
- Better weight management
Despite the benefits, only 1 in 10 Aussie teens aged 15 – 17 meets to the physical activity guidelines. A report released last year shows that Australia is ranked 140 out of 146 countries for teen activity levels. It’s a scary statistic…
So, how much exercise should teens be getting?
Physical activity guidelines for teens
The physical activity guidelines for teens are the same as those for children. This means limiting sedentary time (especially time spent on screens) and getting at least at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day.
As children get older and move into adolescence, physical activity often becomes more structure. It’s often less about play and incidental activity and more focused on structured exercise and sports.
Movement is medicine for adults
Although most of us know exercise is good for us, only about half of all Australian adults are getting enough physical activity. Many see exercise as a “chore” and feel they just don’t have the time for it in their busy lives. But there are a few pretty important reasons to make time and prioritise exercise:
- Reduced risk of chronic disease
- Better mood and less risk of mental health conditions
- Improved brain function
- More energy
- Higher feelings of well-being
- Better social health
- Stronger muscles and bones
- A healthier heart
- Better weight management and less risk of obesity
Overall, exercise is good for just about every aspect of your body and mind. It’s just THAT good for you. If it was a pill, it’d be the most prescribed drug in the country.
So how much exercise should you be getting?
Physical activity guidelines for adults
Aussie adults should aim to be active on most, preferably all, days every week. Throughout the week, you should aim to accumulate:
- 150 to 300 minutes (2 ½ to 5 hours) of moderate intensity physical activity or;
- 75 to 150 minutes (1 ¼ to 2 ½ hours) of vigorous intensity physical activity or;
- An equivalent combination of both moderate and vigorous activities
It’s also so important to do muscle strengthening activities on at least 2 days each week. Currently, only about 15% of Aussie adults do strength training twice a week.
Remember that doing any physical activity is better than doing none. If you don’t currently do any physical activity, it’s important to start slow and gradually build up to the recommended amount.
Need help getting started?
It can be hard to make a lifestyle change, and with so much information out there, it’s normal to feel a little lost at the start. With many people currently doing exercise at home, we’ve created some free resources that can help you get started, including a series of free home exercise videos. If you haven’t already, download our FREE weekly activity tracker to help keep you on motivated.
We also recommend asking for advice, especially if you’re at risk of or living with a chronic condition. Contacting your local accredited exercise professional is a great place to start. There are over 6,500 university-qualified experts in Australia who are accredited with Exercise & Sports Science Australia. By choosing one of these professionals, you know you’re putting your hands in the hands of a real expert who is held to the highest standard of professional practice. Click here to find one near you.
Movement is medicine for older Australians
Exercise is so vital later in life. Staying active can help to:
- Reduce the risk of developing chronic conditions
- Improve your mental health and social well-being
- Reduce your risk of falls
- Maintain your independence
- Reduce the age-related decrease in bone density
- Slow the rate muscle wastage associated with ageing
Research has also shown a link between higher levels of physical activity and lower frequency of hospitalisations in older people.
Yet despite the myriad of benefits, exercise levels tend to drop off as we age. So, how much should you be getting if you’re over 65?
Physical activity guidelines for older adults
Older people should accumulate at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most, preferably all, days. This should include being active in as many ways as possible, doing a range of physical activities that incorporate fitness, strength, balance and flexibility.
Sadly, only 1 in 4 older Australians are doing 30 minutes of exercise at least five times a week.
Keeping older Australians active
For many older Australians, accessing exercise services has become even more difficult since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
To help older Aussies stay active at home, we’ve created some free resources and home exercise videos specially designed for this demographic. Click here to check it out.
If you’re over 65, we also offer a 12-week program called Exercise Right for Active Ageing. This program offers government subsidised exercise classes to older Australians either via telehealth or face-to-face. Click here to find a provider near you.
Are you ready to move more?
Regardless of your age, health status or background, we ALL need movement to stay healthy. Throughout Exercise Right Week, we’re offering Aussies access to FREE online exercise classes and education sessions to learn more about how to stay active safely. Click here to see what’s on or sign up!
For those wanting more individualised advice, contact your local accredited exercise professional to learn what exercise options are best for you.