20s Sports to try: sprinting, circuits, rowing

For many, these are also the years for partying and eating what you want – but it should be about building foundations for future health and fitness, says Prof Greg Whyte, sports scientist and training coach to celebrities such as David Walliams and Davina McCall.

‘In your 20s you are at the peak of your powers. This age needs to be about building strength and muscle – because this will biologically start to decline when you hit 35 – as well as cardiovascular fitness.’

Building muscle now helps develop a good metabolic rate, protecting against weight gain, and will also protect your bones and joints as you age, says Matt Roberts, personal trainer and author of Younger, Fitter, Stronger: The Revolutionary 8-Week Fitness Plan for Men. Prof Whyte recommends 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week, including strength endurance classes, such as circuits, and cardio-vascular activities such as swimming, running, cycling or rowing.

30s Try: squash, tennis, pelvic floor exercises

Busy and likely to be spending more time in a sedentary job, this is a time to integrate energetic, multitasking sports into your routine, says Roberts.

‘Tennis or squash played at high intensity is good for getting a muscular, cardiovascular, flexibility and co-ordination workout along with a stress release within one 45-60-minute commitment weekly.’ He also advises ‘exercise snacking’ – running home or doing a short, 25-minute run in your lunch hour.

This is the decade that children are most likely to come along, so women should be paying attention to pelvic floors with planks, side planks, pilates and yoga.

Leave longer recovery times after exercising, and incorporate recovery workouts such as yoga into your weekly routine.

40s Try: marathons, weights, pilates

For the sandwich generation, hectic lifestyles can get in the way of exercise, and stress itself can trigger the start of the dreaded middle-aged spread.

Try brisk walking, spin classes, jogging and swimming.

For women approaching the perimenopause or menopause, Prof Whyte suggests trying racquet games, old-fashioned jogging and fast-paced walking.

As for the spare tyre, Roberts recommends lifting heavy weights combined with high intensity interval training three times a week.

50s Try: boxing, golf, circuit training

‘A lot of people think they need to slow down in their 50s, but we need the opposite,’ says Prof Whyte. ‘Of course you need to build up gradually.’

To keep up muscle mass and heart health try cardio activity such as walking and swimming three times a week, fitting in functional training, too, such as squats, dead lifts, bench and chest presses and push-ups. A weekly session of yoga or pilates is excellent.

Look for exercises that increase mobility and co-ordination, to work the brain and also your balance. In the gym, try moves that involve drills with rhythm and changing directions such as circuits.

60s Try: power walking, gardening, swimming

‘Take your doctor’s advice. This time of life is really all about keeping mobile,’ says Roberts. ‘Keeping your cardiovascular system conditioned is crucial, alongside building stability in the hips and lower back and mobility in the shoulders and knees, to help keep problems at bay.’

Moderate intensity cardiovascular work, such as jogging, power walking, gardening, dancing or swimming a few times a week is important. ‘Also try walking fast up a relatively steep hill for 45 seconds and strolling back down, repeating 6-8 times.’

70s Try: ballroom dancing, table tennis, yoga

Back pain can be common, and mobility and strength work is important to ensure flexibility. Hatha yoga delivers stretching work in the hips, quads, hamstrings and back, but with a low risk of injury. Consider simple stretches and balances at home, too.

The Daily Telegraph