Written by Kelsey Bohachewski, B.Sc.(Kin), C.E.P.
Throughout life, our activity needs to change.
As young children, our goals are to develop fundamental skills such as walking, running, jumping, and throwing. As our skills develop, we increase our independence and social interactions. Developing teamwork, problem-solving, and friendships alongside fundamental movements that can be learned from exercise translates into our daily life. As we become older our competitive drive or goals may change but maintaining a physically active lifestyle is still beneficial regardless of our stage in life.
The benefits of exercises are more than just maintaining a healthy weight and increasing strength. Regular exercise can help with managing stress or depression, prevent cognitive decline, and improve self-esteem. The guidelines suggest muscle strengthening exercises at least twice a week. Strength training can increase muscular endurance and strength, as well as reduce the risk of falling in senior populations. Using equipment like free weights or machines, as well as bodyweight exercises, can increase bone density and muscle mass.
The Canadian Health Guide recommends adults aged 18-64 get at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity each week. Activities that elevate heart rate, or breathing harder can be indicators of moderate or vigorous activity. This can include:
- cross country skiing
alongside other sports or endurance activities. Research has shown that Canadians are not meeting exercise goals; with only 16% of the population meeting minimal demands.
While there is a high focus on exercise aimed at youth and children, exercise is beneficial to adults and senior populations. After the age of 30 we begin to lose muscle mass as much has 3-5% per decade. Exercise on a regular basis helps to maintain functional independence, maintains bone health, and regulates chronic illnesses. Guidelines for individuals over 65 years is also recommended as 150 minutes a week and includes strength training twice a week. Activities such as stretching and balance training are important to reduce the risk of falling and can be related to daily living actives, like yard work or household chores. To prevent the risk of injury it should be kept in mind to increase stability if needed for exercise, which can be done in 10-minute intervals.
Regardless of where we are in life, exercise is beneficial in many ways. Not only does it strengthen our bodies, but it encourages our social skills, and improves our mental health. Although our needs may change as we age the advantages of an active lifestyle are always constant.