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This Is The Age We Start To Prioritise Good Health Over Good Looks


32 is when Brits start exercising for their health rather than their looks, research by Virgin Active has revealed

Over half (58%) of Brits under 25 stated ‘looking good’ was their number one motivator for working out. This reduces to just 36% for those aged 35-44 and over, who prioritise activeness over abs. The study showed that being physically fit doesn’t start to be a priority until people reach their mid-thirties.

When asked what is more important to them, over half of people between the ages of 25 and 34 (55%) claimed they’d rather look slim and toned in their holiday photos than be fit enough to run a marathon. Over 50% (52%) of women agreed with this statement, in comparison to just 39% of men.

Looking at what other reasons motivate us to exercise, just under a third (29.6%) of Brits keep fit for stress relief. However for those under 25, there’s evidence that the gym is becoming more of a social occasion, even more than a visit to the local pub, with over one in ten (15%) visiting the gym because their friends do.

Over 55s are also likely to spend more time working up a sweat, exercising on average 4.8 hours a week (12% higher than those under 24). In comparison, the national average is 4.3 hours a week.

The research has been commissioned by Virgin Active as it launches Beyond Movement, an in-club service that gives people access to experts who help improve all-round fitness, movement and wellbeing through a combination of Reformer Pilates, sports massage and physiotherapy.

Working with Tim Wright, the creator of Beyond Movement, Virgin Active has devised a checklist of simple exercises you should be able to complete to ensure you are as fit and as mobile as you could be for your age.

Whether you’re 22, 32 or 72 – the below movements have been designed as a fitness barometer for those looking to maintain good health.

Tim says: “Working out regularly has multiple health benefits at any age but this becomes increasingly important as we get older. Exercise won’t just help keep you slim, it’s also an important step to fighting the effects of ageing and improving your mental and physical health. The below exercises are a simple and effective way of knowing whether you are in good physical condition or whether you need to work on improving movement and your fitness levels.”

In your 20s…

  • Run 5K in thirty minutes
  • Perform 20 burpees in a row
  • Hold a full plank for one minute each side  

Regular exercise, reducing chronic stress, quality sleep and a balanced diet can have enormous health benefits both in your twenties and in the future. Whilst late nights are tempting in your twenties, try to aim for on average 7 hours of good quality sleep per night.

In your 30s…

  • Run a mile in less than 9 minutes
  • Hold a plank for 45 seconds
  • Deadlift more than 50% of your bodyweight

In your thirties, try to be active and break up your day so you’re not sitting for extended periods – this helps offset the effects of ageing.  Examples could be walking in your lunch break or investing in a standing desk.

In your 40s…

  • Sprint for 60 seconds without stopping
  • 10x press ups without stopping
  • Touch your toes comfortably whilst keeping your legs straight

In your 40s, it’s important not to be too reliant on public transport or your car. Over 10,000 steps count as a very active movement day – which is great for the musculoskeletal system (your joints, muscles and bones).

In your 50s…

  • Run at a moderate pace for 60 seconds without stopping
  • 5x burpees without stopping
  • Lower yourself into a cross-legged sitting position on the floor (without using your hands) and then return to standing

Between the ages of 50 and 70 we lose about 30% of our muscle strengths so it’s important to maintain a fitness regime. However, as well as looking after your physical performance, make sure to give yourself headspace each day, building in at least five minutes of relaxation.

In your 60s…

  • Regularly take more than 10,000 steps in a day
  • Perform 12 bodyweight squats without stopping
  • Touch your fingertips with one hand over your shoulder and the other behind your back

According to the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP), those over the age of 65 have a 1 in 3 chance of sustaining a fall, even if they are in good health.

Ageing impairs balance, muscles and joints and is made worse with long periods of sitting down so try to incorporate regular exercise throughout the week in your sixties.

In your 70s…

  • Walk a mile in less than 16 minutes
  • Climb a flight of stairs with 10 steps in under 30 seconds comfortably
  • Rise to stand from a chair without using hands or arms and repeat 12+ times in 30 seconds

The likelihood of sustaining a fall increases in your 70s, making it even more important to remain active.

Never exercised before? Remember to start with small, achievable and personal goals such as taking up swimming a couple of times a week or walking the dog daily.