No matter how busy you are, it’s definitely possible to fit in fitness, and the pay-off is pretty impressive, from a brighter mood and better sleep to a fired up metabolism.
Maximising movement in your 20s and 30s
We’ve all heard about the importance of exercise, but even if you do carve out time to work out, chances are, you’re not doing it enough to achieve peak health and wellbeing. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, a third of people in their twenties and thirties have low levels of physical activity. (1) It’s no wonder, considering our fast-paced, stressful lives and culture that’s increasingly focused on sedentary, screen-based pursuits. Still, it is possible to fit more exercise into your week, and your body and mind will thank you.
Why being physically active matters at this age
It’s great for mental health: One in five Australians aged 16-85 will experience a mental illness (such as depression, anxiety or substance use disorder) in any year, with almost half (45%) of us experiencing a mental illness in our lifetime. (2) Exercise is one of the best ways to protect your mental health, with studies showing that it can be as effective as talk therapy and medication in treating depressive symptoms. (3)
Improve your sleep quality: You might be burning the candle at both ends in your twenties, but in your thirties your levels of restorative sleep can actually start to decline due to age-related physiological changes, research shows. (4) The good news is that exercise is proven to improve sleep quality and help you feel less sleepy during the day. (5)
Fire up metabolism: Regular physical activity is one of the best ways to stay in shape, plus according to one study, a 45-minute vigorous exercise bout cranks up your metabolic rate for 14 hours afterwards. (6)
Build a strong, resilient body: Your future health probably isn’t high on your list of worries when you’re young, but exercise is a great investment in future you. Building strong bones and muscles and a healthy cardiovascular system now will help you stay fit and energetic for years to come. Plus regular exercise improves insulin sensitivity, decreases blood pressure and blood fat levels – all wins for your health.
Be a positive role model for your kids: If you have young kids, modelling a healthy, active lifestyle is a powerful way to encourage them to adopt these behaviours themselves, both now and as they grow older. In fact, children who receive parental support to be active are six times more likely to be active than inactive. (7)
How much physical activity do I need?
The national physical activity guidelines recommend doing 150 to 300 minutes (2.5 to 5 hours) of moderate intensity physical activity or 75 to 150 minutes (1 ¼ to 2.5 hours) of vigorous intensity physical activity, each week. It’s also recommended to do muscle strengthening activities on at least two days each week, and to minimise how much time you spend sitting. (8)
Handy tips for moving more
Make exercise a non-negotiable: Treating exercise like any other important commitment in your schedule can help you stick to it. That might mean blocking out regular workout times in your diary, buddying up with a friend, committing to a gym membership, group fitness classes or one-on-one training. In the case of trainer-led sessions, it’s important you choose one that’s facilitated by a Registered Personal Trainer, so you know you’re being instructed by someone who can properly tailor the workout to your individual fitness level and requirements, and ensure you’re exercising with correct form so you don’t get injured.
Track your fitness: If you love your tech, why not use it to help you get fit? Make the most of the countless workout apps available, or invest in a fitness tracker for motivating metrics about your fitness progress.
Sign up to a fitness challenge: Whether it’s a fun run, half-marathon, a Tough Mudder or True Grit obstacle course, a fundraising-based event or even a destination fitness event such as the T2T Tower Climb in New York, having a challenge to work towards will ensure you keep training to reach your fitness goals.
Take a stand against sitting: Many of us have desk-based jobs, but also spend much of our leisure time sitting, too. In fact, on average Australians sit for almost 10 hours every day. Prolonged sitting is linked to a range of health problems such as musculoskeletal disorders, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and poor mental health, so anything you can do to break up long stretches of sitting will help counteract any negative health effects. At work, step away from your desk for a mini break every 30 minutes. At home, move around the house while you check your emails and texts on your phone, and combine TV time with standing to fold the laundry or do a few stretches, lunges or push-ups.
Destress with mind-body exercise: While regular heart-pumping sweat sessions are great, it’s also important to include movement that helps you relax and unwind. Think yoga, Pilates, martial arts or hiking in nature.
Get active today
Find a Registered Personal Trainer, gym, wellness studio or activity in your area at FitnessAustralia.com.au
- Heart Foundation Level of exercise statistics info sheet
- Black Dog Institute facts & figures about mental health info sheet
- James A. Blumenthal, Patrick J. Smith, Benson M. Hoffman, Is Exercise a Viable Treatment for Depression?, ACSMs Health Fit J. 2012 July/August; 16(4): 14–21.
Mander BA, Winer JR, Walker MP, Sleep and Human Aging, Neuron.2017 Apr 5;94(1):19-36. https://www.cell.com/neuron/fulltext/S0896-6273(17)30088-0
- Paul D.Loprinzi, Bradley J.Cardinal, Association between objectively-measured physical activity and sleep, NHANES 2005–2006, Mental Health and Physical Activity, Volume 4, Issue 2, December 2011, Pages 65-69.
- Knab AM, Shanely RA, Corbin KD, Jin F, Sha W, Nieman DC, A 45-minute vigorous exercise bout increases metabolic rate for 14 hours, Med Sci Sports Exerc.2011 Sep;43(9):1643-8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21311363
- Child Health & Exercise Medicine Program fact sheet, McMaster University, Issue 14, April 2015
- Australia’s Physical Activity & Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines for Adults (18-64 years)