Why you need a strength routine

The latest Australian guidelines recommend strength training for people from five years of age and all the way into your golden years. It truly is a strength-for-all approach and the research says that we need it.

The guidelines include all sorts of useful info and are in helpful tables at the bottom of this article.

Strength for all

If you think it’s extreme to have children as young as five lifting weights (even though that’s an actual recommendation), here are some other muscle-strengthening ideas from the guidelines for children:

  • running
  • climbing
  • swinging on monkey bars
  • push-ups
  • sit-ups
  • yoga

For adults 18 to 64 years of age, here are the muscle-strengthening examples:

  • push-ups
  • pull-ups
  • squats or lunges
  • lifting weights
  • household tasks that involve lifting, carrying or digging

And if you think you deserve a break from the gym after 65 years on earth, that’s not what the guidelines say. Over 65s still need to keep up strength activities (over 65s with a chronic health condition should chat to their GP first) such as:

  • weight, strength or resistance training
  • lifting and carrying (for example, groceries or small children)
  • climbing stairs
  • moderate yard work (for example, digging and shifting soil)
  • calisthenics (for example, push-ups and sit-ups)

The guidelines

Children and young people

Recommendations Under 12 months 1 to 2 years 3 to 5 years 5 to 17 years
Physical activity Interactive floor-based play, and at least 30 minutes of tummy time for babies per day. At least 3 hours of energetic play per day. At least 3 hours per day, with 1 hour being energetic play.

At least 1 hour of moderate to vigorous activity involving mainly aerobic activities per day.

Vigorous activities should be incorporated at least 3 days per week.

Several hours of light activities per day.

Strength       At least 3 days a week.
Sedentary time Do not restrain for more than 1 hour at a time. Do not restrain for more than 1 hour at a time. Do not restrain for more than 1 hour at a time. Minimise and break up long periods of sitting.
Sedentary recreational screen time None.

Under 2 years: None.

2 years: No more than 1 hour per day.

No more than 1 hour per day. No more than 2 hours per day.
Sleep

0 to 3 months:
14 to 17 hours.

4 to 11 months:
12 to 16 hours.

This includes naps.

11 to 14 hours, including naps. 10 to 13 hours. Some will still need naps.

5 to 13 years:
9 to 11 hours.

14 to 17 years:
8 to 10 hours.

Adults

Recommendations 18 to 64 years Pregnancy 65 years and over
Physical activity Be active on most (preferably all) days, to weekly total of: 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate activity or 1.25 to 2.5 hours of vigorous activity or an equivalent combination of both.

Be active on most (preferably all) days, to weekly total of: 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate activity or 1.25 to 2.5 hours of vigorous activity or an equivalent combination of both.

Do pelvic floor exercises.

At least 30 minutes of moderate activity on most (preferably all) days.
Strength At least 2 days a week. At least 2 days a week. Do a range of activities that incorporate fitness, strength, balance and flexibility.
Sedentary time Minimise and break up long periods of sitting. Minimise and break up long periods of sitting.  

Read more about the guidelines on the Department of Health website.

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