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Exercise whatever your age

Gráinne O’Driscoll runs Grá For Fitness offering public, private and corporate Pilates, yoga and fitness classes

If we take an holistic approach to fitness, we can break it down into cardio respiratory fitness, strength, mobility (range of movement in joints), flexibility, balance and let’s not forget our mental health.


If you have a pair of runners or walking shoes, brisk walking is one of the most accessible forms of fitness, no matter what age we are and is beneficial to our cardio respiratory health and muscle endurance as well as our mental health. Walking not only gets us outside in the air, but offers an opportunity to be social and connect with friends.


For flexibility, strength, balance, joint mobility, breathwork and for its calming effect on the nervous system, the practice of yoga is a really wonderful way to address physical and mental fitness. There is a smorgasbord of types of yoga classes to choose from, from more energetic styles to gentle and restorative.


With a strong emphasis on posture and moving with the breath, Pilates (mat and reformer) benefits include core strength, spine mobility, body awareness, improved focus and balance.

Strength Training

Strength training is becoming increasingly popular with our young population. It’s important to note though, that as we get older we lose both muscle tone and bone density, which strength training and proper diet can help combat. You don’t have to join a gym to use weights, but correct technique is vital, therefore getting advice from a personal trainer is recommended.


Sylvia Diaz is a fitness instructor, personal trainer and nutrition advisor. She runs Fit with Sylvia and offers Fitness Dance classes.

Think of an activity that would be suitable both for a child and an older person, even the elderly. The ones that come to mind are low-impact, right? But there are many more activities that we can integrate in our lives, regardless of our age.

A 30-minute activity is recommended for everyone, and this can be achieved by simply running errands or going to work. Hiking can be a great exercise, consider cycling when you have something to do around town, or do some stretching while you are waiting for the washing machine to finish.

One of the best workouts is cross-training, this is when you combine both anaerobic (strength/resistance training) with aerobic (cardio) elements.

I recommend focusing on exercises that include swimming, rowing, using the elliptical machine, spinning and stationary core exercises. Any of these workouts will strengthen your body’s aerobic system and core, and this will indirectly help you to be fitter.

Endurance training is fun and can be done as outdoor group activities. It also helps to keep your Resting Heart Rate as low as possible, the indicator of how fit you are. Endurance training includes cycling, swimming, dancing and playing tennis.

Cycling can be super handy, especially if you use your bike as your mode of transport. And swimming builds not just endurance, but also muscle tone, strength and cardiovascular fitness, which helps maintain a healthy weight, heart and lungs.

Yoga is another excellent exercise for the body, mind and soul, no matter your age. It helps develop balance and strength through controlled movements and poses.

Fun activities which get us exercising without realising it are, in my opinion, the best and combined with proper strength and resistance training, they give us the equivalent of a full workout.

Resistance or strength training improves mobility, flexibility and especially balance, reduces bone loss and improves muscle strength and tone, to protect your joints from injury, and increases muscle-to-fat ratio. It can be done with equipment, like dumbbells, and you can also use barbells, kettlebells and resistance bands. Some exercises using this equipment are squats, deadlifts and standing presses.

Always remember to hire a fitness coach or personal trainer to learn the proper technique and you will progress quickly without the risk of injury.

Instagram: @fit.with.sylvia

Marvin Burton is head of fitness at Anytime Fitness

Age is not an indicator of health status; you could be a super-fit 50-year-old running marathons or an unhealthy 21-year-old. However, as we get older, our physiology does change and we must ensure we do everything we can to maintain our health.

As functional attributes decrease due to age, your exercise priorities may change or need to focus on more fundamental skills. These are general points to consider and we recommend seeking a bespoke and personalised plan from one of our great personal trainers.

20s Our bones stop growing (a process called ossification) from here, bones are now strengthened from exercise. In your 20s, it’s a good time to try new forms of exercise and start to find enjoyable and active hobbies and ways to maintain healthy habits.

30s Lifestyle factors and changes usually occur and effect your overall health. In our 30s, we usually try to balance work, family and social lives. Exercise is essential for decreasing mental, physical and emotional stress. Exercise with friends, group exercise classes and team sports may be extremely helpful at this stage.

40s Our muscle and bone density start to decrease, and joints become less stable. We should ensure we are using resistance training to maintain bone density and support joints. Females are also facing hormonal changes - resistance training and dietary adaptions can help to reduce symptoms and help with balancing.

Marvin Burton is Head of Fitness at national gym provider, Anytime Fitness UK. Visit www.anytimefitness.co.uk to find your nearest club in the Republic of Ireland.

Alan Williams of Alan Williams Coaching

There’s one really important factor we should remember when considering the type of exercise we’re going to pursue, no matter what age - find something you enjoy. That’s what will make it sustainable.

Often as people approach adulthood they start to drift away from physical activity. This is why I’m steadfast on the importance of trying different things at a younger age, so that everybody can discover something they enjoy, and the chances of remaining active in adult life increase significantly.

All adults should aim to be physically active every day and it’s recommended that you do a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week. Again, that can be broken down into a number of shorter sessions through the day if desired. We want to break up any long periods of sitting or lying down.

I’d also encourage people to incorporate some form of resistance training into their routines. That can be bodyweight exercises or it may be lifting weights.

Not only will it help to keep us in physically good shape, but it’s also really important in maintaining strength and muscle mass as we age.

A common mistake among adults is doing a form of exercise that they think they should do, because they’ve seen somebody else do it or because their friend loves it. Your friend may love running as an aerobic exercise but it it could be the worst thing in the world for you. Maybe you prefer cycling and you’d have no problem getting your activity hours in on a bike? That may be a better option.


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