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The Best Exercise Regimen For You – What Exercise to Do?

Find out the best exercise regimen for every age group

When we think of exercise, we always think of some workouts that are very hard to do and it always requires going to the gym, but it’s not always the case. Exercise has many forms with lots of varieties and a huge amount of advantages. There are specialized physical activities for every age group with their specified goals.

A study by Larry Tucker, professor of exercise science at Brigham Young University shows that the physically most active people (jog 30-40 minutes a day for 5 days a week, or workout of the equivalent intensity) had biological aging markers that appeared 9 years (longer telomeres) younger than those who were sedentary.

Regularly exercising anti-ages by 9 years.

The main reason is that physical activities reduce inflammation and harmful chemical imbalances due to oxidative stress [1].

Comparison between the Activity of Individuals Advantages on Reduced Cellular Aging
Physically most active vs sedentary 9 years
Physically most active vs less active 8.8 years
Physically most active vs moderately active 7.1 years

In another study, showed that workout reduces risks of early aging, mortality rate as well as the risks of cardiovascular diseases and better cognitive health.

                      How to design your own exercise program?

There are Four Types of Workouts [2]

Cardiorespiratory aka aerobic, endurance activities, increase your breathing and heart rate

keep your heart, lungs, and circulatory system healthy and improves your overall fitness
·        Brisk walking or jogging
·        Rope jumping
·        Dancing

Weight / Resistance aka strength activities builds muscle and make your muscle stronger

help you stay independent and carry out everyday activities, such as climbing stairs and carrying groceries
·        Lifting weights
·        Using a resistance band
·        Using your own body weight

Balance / Neuromotor lower body strength exercises improve your balance

helps in preventing falls
·        Tai Chi
·        Standing on one foot
·        Heel-to-toe walk

Flexibility stretch your muscles and can help your body stay limber

gives you more freedom of movement for other exercises
·        Yoga
·        Shoulder and upper arm stretch
·        Calf stretches


Workout such as aerobic, endurance increase the breathing and heart rate.

There are 2 types of cardiorespiratory training – steady-state or endurance and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) t; any exercise that doesn’t fall into HIIT would qualify as endurance activities.

Standards of heart rate by cardiovascular activity [3, 4]:

Physical Activity % to Maximum Heart Rate MHR 9 14
Endurance training, general aerobic condition 50 – 65% beginner
60 – 75% intermediate
70 – 85% Experienced
High-intensity interval training HIIT > 80% high intensity
50 – 70% recovery
Benefits [5]
  • Lower risk of all-cause mortality
  • Lowers the risk of Cardiovascular disease
  • Stroke – reduces risk by 31%
  • Hypertension (also linked to renal disease), can reduce by 6.9/4.9 mm Hg[6]
  • Cancer – reduces risk by 45%[7]
  • Type 2 diabetes (no effective cure; thus preventive measure is important)[8]
  • Depression – reduces symptoms by 30% and boosting mood [9]
  • Cognitive function – reduces risk up to 38% [10]
  • Improve bone mineral density and reduction of arthritic symptoms [11]
  • Improve metabolic syndrome score (better than weight training)[12]
  • Improve cholesterol profile (increasing HDL, decreasing LDL) [11]
  • Losing weight, fat (body fat mass), and waist circumference (particularly good for visceral fat and liver fat) [12]

About High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

HIIT involves repeated bouts of high-intensity effort followed by varied recovery times [13].

Duration of the high-intensity effort should be between 5 seconds to 8 minutes; during which the effort should range from 80% to greater than 100% of maximum heart rate (MHR), or maximal power output. The recovery can be in form of passive recoveries (doing very little movement) or active recoveries (about 50-70% of the above-described intensity measures) [4]. The optimal work to rest ratio has been identified as 2 to 1 [14].

HIIT Program Components % to Maximum Heart Rate MHR
High-Intensity Work: 5 seconds to 8 minutes 80 – 100% MHR
Rest Recovery Internal: Work to Rest Ratio 2 to 1 <50% passive recovery
50 – 70% active recovery
  • post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) aka burning of calories after exercise, is higher with HIIT than continuous aerobic training – adding about 6 to 15% more calories expenditure [15].
  • Research by Dr. Thomas Solomon showed the interval walking renders benefits than continuous walking on physical fitness, body composition (including visceral fat), glycemic control for type 2 diabetic patients
    • The study based on the physical activity regimen as 5 days/week, 60 mins with 3-min repetitions at low and high intensity, for 4 months [16]
  • Improvement on cardiorespiratory fitness and reversing hemodynamic, metabolic, and hormonal alterations involved in the pathophysiology of hypertension[17]
Training format and frequency

Interval training is very physically demanding and it is important to be fully recovered between sessions.

A powerful program of HIIT to enhance vascular function concluded in a review would be [18]:

4-minute high intensity workout (85-95% of MHR) x 4 times per session + 3-minute active recovery (60-70% of MHR)
3 times per week

A study had shown that people found HIIT less enjoyable than other aerobic exercises – which can make it less sustainable in the long term [19]. Identify and commit to the motivations are thus important to make any lifestyle change sustainable.


> Brisk Walking

> Cycling

> Running

> Jumping Rope/ Jumoing Jacks

> Stair Climbing

> Mountain Climbing

> Kickboxing

Weight, Resistance, or Strength

Activities build muscle and make your muscle stronger.

Benefits [11]
  • Bone health [20] – high-intensity strength training can significantly increase bone mineral density, protective of bone loss/osteoporosis [21]
    • reverse almost 1% of bone loss per year
    • studies showed that 2 sessions per week for 3 years preserve bone mineral density at the spine and hip over a sedentary control group showed bone mineral density losses of 2 to 8%[22]
  • Preventive of cardiovascular disease
  • Improve low back pain, osteoporosis, sarcopenia, and orthopedic injuries[23]
  • Increasing muscle mass[12] thus basal metabolic rate (may not have an effect on body weight as an increase in lean body mass)
    • muscles burn 3 times more calories than fat while resting confirmed by Claude Bouchard of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center [24]
    • the positive effect on body composition makes it easier to manage one’s weight
  • Strengthen back muscles can reduce the risk of vertebral fractures and kyphosis [25]
  • Improve cholesterol profile (increasing HDL, decreasing LDL)
  • Increase strength and basal metabolism
  • Increase lean body mass
  • Increase endurance during aerobic exercise
Training format and frequency

The American Heart Association recommends moderate- to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity (such as resistance or weights) at least 2 days per week.

2 to 3 days per week; and at least 48 hours between two sessions using the same muscle group [23] [26].

But don’t exercise the same muscle group on any 2 days in a row.

The intensity of resistance training is determinant to developing muscular strength. The intensity of weight training is measured by a repetition maximum (RM) – the maximum number of repetitions performed before fatigue prohibits the completion of an additional repetition. A weight load that produces fatigue on the 3rd repetition is termed as a 3-RM which corresponds approximately to 85% of the weight that could be lifted as 1-RM [23].

Repetitions Maximum Intensity Benefits Frequency/week Target
1-6 RM High Greatest strength gain 2-3 days Healthy individuals below 50 years old
8-12 RM Moderate Strength and power 2-3 days Healthy individuals below 50 years old
10-15 RM Moderate Strength 2-3 days Healthy individuals above 50 years old and cardiac patients
10-15 RM Low Muscle endurance 2-3 days All

Each repetition of exercise should include the following [11]:

  • a slow, controlled movement (≈2 seconds up and 4 seconds down),
  • one full inspiration and expiration, and
  • no breath holding

Programs should be designed to train the major muscle groups including a single set of 8 to 10 different exercises:

  • Squats,chest press, shoulder press, triceps extension, biceps curl, pull-down / upper back,
  • Using your own bodyweight lower-back extension, abdominal crunch/curl-up, quadriceps extension or leg press, leg curls/hamstrings, and calf raise.
  • Using a resistance band If stretched and released slowly can improve muscular strength. It is important to feel muscle fatigue, which is an indicator that you are doing them correctly.

Results from studies:

  • 25%-100% increase in the muscular strength and endurance for men and women for all ages
    • moderate to high intensity, 2-3 days per week, 3-6 months[11]
  • High-intensity, low volume, long rest is more advantageous than moderate-intensity, high volume, short rest in stimulating upper body strength and muscle gains
    • 3-5 RM x 4 sets + 3 minutes of rest interval vs – 10-12 RM x 4 sets + 1 minute of rest interval, 8 weeks[27]

Note that higher intensity, fewer repetitions with heavier weights, can have adverse effects on the knee (leg extension) and shoulder (rotator cuff) areas.

Balance / Neuromotor

Balance, neuromotor, and sometimes called functional fitness training are exercises that involve balancing skills to prevent falls, especially in older adults. The common exercises include Tai Chi and Yoga.

Benefits and Types of Exercises
  • Tai Chi practitioners can have a 47% decrease in falls and 25% hip fracture rate of those who do not
    • Tai Chi can be beneficial for retarding bone loss in weight-bearing bones in early postmenopausal women [25]
  • Balancing on a single leg 
  • Practicing Yoga (styles requiring physical movements and postures) can render the below benefits [28]
    • Muscle strength and endurance
    • Flexibility and balance
    • Cardiovascular benefits
    • Soothing tension and anxiety

Results from studies:

Training format and frequency

Balance activities should be incorporated 2 to 3 days per week with 20-30 minutes per day [26].


Stretch muscles and can help your body stay limber.

Benefits [11]
  • Improve joint range of motion (ROM) and function
  • Enhance muscular performance
  • Beneficial in fractures recovery
  • Prevent and treat musculoskeletal injuries
  • Increase tendon flexibility
Training format and frequency

Stretching should be incorporated 2 to 3 days per week between the cardiorespiratory and/or weight workouts [11] for at least 10 minutes per session [29].

The components of a stretch session [26]:

Stretch should be performed after warming the muscle (light aerobic activity / hot bath)
10-30 seconds (to the point of tightness or slight discomfort) x 2-4 times = 60 seconds per stretch
2-3 times per week and on days when aerobic or strength training are performed

To avoid muscle injuries; the below format is recommended [30]:

  • Ballistic – which makes use of repetitive bouncing movements
  • Static – which stretches the muscle to the point of slight muscle discomfort and is held for an extended period.
  • Modified proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation techniques PNF – which uses alternating contractions and stretching of the muscles.



A warm-up is necessary to prepare the body for workout exercise by increasing heart rate and blood flow to working muscles [31].

Warm-up refers to increase the body temperature through [30]

  1. passive warm-up — by some external means
  2. general warm-up — by nonspecific body movements
  3. specific warm-up — using similar body parts that will be used in the subsequent, more strenuous activity à this is the best as it offers a rehearsal of the activity.
Benefits [30]
  • Prevent and reduce musculoskeletal injuries
  • Optimize flexibility effectiveness and range of motions
Training format and frequency [31]

It is recommended to incorporate a warm-up prior to performing Cardiorespiratory, Weight and Flexibility training.

  • Start with a light cardiovascular exercise such as walking, jogging, or biking for 5-10 minutes to break a sweat
  • Once the muscles are warm, perform static stretches, dynamic stretches – the more prepared the body is the less likely it is to get injured

A cool-down of 5-10 minutes of low-intensity cardiovascular activity followed by stretching immediately after the workout will decrease muscle soreness and aid in recovery, both helping to prepare the body for the next workout.

How to design your own workout program?

Incorporate the 4 types of workouts in your weekly routine using a frequency that works towards as well as to sustain your fitness goals – whether to look good, to prevent diseases, to lose weight, to gain more muscles or to be more flexible.

For example, a combination of cardio and weight workout training has the best effect in reducing waist circumference mass while gaining lean muscles [12].

decreasing body fat mass Cardiorespiratory training
reducing waist circumference
raising lean muscles

Weight training

Meanwhile, the most important way to burn fat and to lose weight is directly linked to what you eat. Explore how you can choose your food wisely.

Intermittent fasting has proven to be a sustainable way to weight loss and to protect from age-related diseases.

To find out exactly if you are ‘fit’ – use these measures.

Regardless of your selection of workout training and frequency, it is recommended to add variety to every exercise routine to prevent repetitive, overuse injuries. By switching from running to cycling, or cardiorespiratory to weight-lifting, muscles and joints are used variously to get a break while challenging other body parts at different times.


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[2]   U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, «4 Types of Exercise,» [Online]. Available:

[3]   L. Melone, «The Heart Rate Debate,» 7 October 2016. [Online]. Available:

[4]   L. Kravitz e M. Zuhl, «HIIT vs Continuous Endurance Training: Battle of the Aerobic Titans,» [Online]. Available:

[5]   J. McKinney e D. Lithwick, «The health benefits of physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness,» April 2016. [Online]. Available:

[6]   V. Cornelissen e R. Fagard, «Effects of Endurance Training on Blood Pressure, Blood Pressure–Regulating Mechanisms, and Cardiovascular Risk Factors,» 29 September 2005. [Online]. Available:

[7]   D. Schmid e M. Leitzmann, «Cardiorespiratory fitness as predictor of cancer mortality: a systematic review and meta-analysis,» Annals of Oncology, 1 February 2015. [Online]. Available:

[8]   Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group, «Reduction In The Incidence Of Type 2 Diabetes With Lifestyle Intervention Or Metformin,» 17 February 2006. [Online]. Available:

[9]   M. Herring, T. Puetz e P. O’Connor, «Effect of Exercise Training on Depressive Symptoms Among Patients With a Chronic Illness,» 23 January 2012. [Online]. Available:

[10] F. Sofi, D. Valecchi, D. Bacci, R. Abbate, G. Gensini, A. Casini e C. Macci, «Physical activity and risk of cognitive decline: a meta-analysis of prospective studies,» Journal of Internal Medicine, 10 September 2010. [Online]. Available:

[11] M. Pollock, B. Franklin, G. Balady e B. Chaitman, «Resistance Exercise in Individuals With and Without Cardiovascular Disease,» 22 February 2000. [Online]. Available:

[12] L. Willis, C. Slentz e L. Bateman, «Effects of aerobic and/or resistance training on body mass and fat mass in overweight or obese adults,» 15 December 2012. [Online]. Available:

[13] American College of Sports Medicine, «High-Intensity Interval Training,» 2014. [Online]. Available:

[14] M. Laurent, L. Vervaecke, M. Kutz e M. Green, «Sex-Specific Responses to Self-Paced, High-Intensity Interval Training With Variable Recovery Periods,» April 2014. [Online]. Available:,.7.aspx.

[15] J. LaForgia, R. Withers e C. Gore, «Effects of exercise intensity and duration on the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption,» December 2006. [Online]. Available:

[16] T. Solomon, K. Karstoft, K. Winding, S. Knudsen e B. Pedersen, «The Effects of Free-Living Interval-Walking Training on Glycemic Control, Body Composition, and Physical Fitness in Type 2 Diabetic Patients,» February 2013. [Online]. Available:

[17] E. Ciolac, L. Bocchi, V. Carvalho, J. Greve e G. Guimaraes, «Effects of high-intensity aerobic interval training vs. moderate exercise on hemodynamic, metabolic and neuro-humoral abnormalities of young normotensive women at high familial risk for hypertension,» August 2010. [Online]. Available:

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[21] J. Todd e R. Robinson, «Osteoporosis and exercise,» 1 June 2003. [Online]. Available:

[22] K. Engelke, W. Kemmler, D. Lauber, C. Beeskow, R. Pintag e W. Kalender, «Exercise maintains bone density at spine and hip EFOPS: a 3-year longitudinal study in early postmenopausal women,» January 2006. [Online].

[23] M. Pollock e M. Feigenbaum, «Prescription of Resistance Training for Health and Disease,» [Online]. Available:

[24] J. Fell, «The myth of ripped muscles and calorie burns,» [Online]. Available:

[25] D. Hunter e P. Sambrook, «Bone loss: Epidemiology of bone loss,» 3 August 2000. [Online]. Available:

[26] C. Garber, «ACSM Issues New Recommendations on Quantity and Quality of Exercise,» 1 August 2011. [Online]. Available:

[27] «The effect of training volume and intensity on improvements in muscular strength and size in resistance-trained men,» August 2015. [Online]. Available:

[28] «Yoga – Benefits Beyond the Mat,» February 2015. [Online]. Available:

[29] «Physical Activity and Public Health in Older Adults: Recommendation From ACSM and AHA,» 2007, [Online]. Available:

[30] «Warming-Up and Stretching for Improved Physical Performance and Prevention of Sports-Related Injuries,» July 1985. [Online]. Available:

[31] M. Nadelen, «Basic Injury Prevention Concepts,» 7 October 2016. [Online]. Available:

[32] Department of Nutrition, «Calcium: What’s Best for Your Bones and Health?,» [Online]. Available:

[33] Z. Kubukeli, S. Dennis e T. Noakes, «Training techniques to improve endurance exercise performances,» 2002. [Online]. Available:

[34] E. Melanson, P. MacLean e J. Hill, «Exercise improves fat metabolism in muscle but does not increase 24-h fat oxidation,» April 2009. [Online]. Available:

[35] E. Perry, «Targeted Fat Loss: Myth or Reality?,» 3 April 2011. [Online]. Available:

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Lois Chan

Lois has worked in the health and skincare industry since 2004. Highly optimistic about aging, she is still pragmatic enough to prepare thoroughly for the future. is Lois' brainchild; a website offering scientifically researched solutions to challenges that people face in every stage of their lives. Join her on her journey for wisdom through the ages.

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