Coupled with a healthy diet, exercise offers nearly universal benefits across all major age groups. Just as the recommended types, intensity and regularity of exercise varies across ages groups, so do the benefits. Because each person's body, health issues and limitations vary, always consult a physician or certified personal trainer before you start reaping the rewards of a new workout routine.
Even at a young age, regular exercise helps control body weight, reduces blood pressure, encourages “good” HDL cholesterol and creates healthy bones, muscles and joints. On a psychological level, exercise for kids promotes self-confidence, readiness to learn and healthy sleep patterns. Health organizations such as the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the American Heart Association recommend that children partake in at least an hour of physical activity per day. Although exercise for children need not be regimented in the same fashion as exercise for adults, these organizations recommend moderate to vigorous physical activity, including kid-friendly activities such as bike riding, jumping rope, dancing and competitive sports.
Unlike children, adults benefit from a structured combination of cardiovascular exercise and strength training, each of which comes with its own share of perks. Cardiovascular exercises, such as running, jogging, martial arts or step aerobics, help improve cardiorespiratory function and oxygen consumption, increase blood flow and supply, burn calories, lower the heart rate and encourage “good” cholesterol. Strength-training exercises, such as lifting weights or performing body-weight exercises, build muscle strength, improve flexibility, encourage lean muscle mass and improve balance.
Exercise helps prevent the occurrence of the arterial issues that appear during middle age. A 2012 Indiana University study finds that 200 minutes of vigorous exercise such as swimming or running helps prevent arterial stiffening, which may cause cardiovascular disease. Likewise, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention purports that regular exercise lowers the risk of functional limitations in middle-aged people. Moderate-intensity aerobic activities help improve balance, control weight, strengthen muscles and prevent cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.
The CDC reports that 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week improves pain management and even reduces the risk of premature death. The CDC notes that just 30 to 60 minutes of cardiovascular exercise or strength training performed three to five times weekly improves both mental health and emotional stability. In addition to reducing the risk of disease, regular exercise helps prevent common problems that come with age, such as falling and hip fractures.
- American Heart Association: Physical Activity and Children
- Medline Plus: Exercise for Children
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: General Physical Activities Defined by Level of Intensity
- Georgia State University: Health Benefits of Exercise and Physical Activity
- Science Daily: Being Active in Middle Age May Prevent Early Death, Especially if Your Heart Risk is High
- U.S. News and World Report: Serious Exercise May Benefit Middle-Aged Arteries
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Physical Activity and Health
Dan Ketchum has been a professional writer since 2003, with work appearing online and offline in Word Riot, Bazooka Magazine, Anemone Sidecar, Trails and more. Dan's diverse professional background spans from costume design and screenwriting to mixology, manual labor and video game industry publicity.