The term ‘cardiovascular health’ relates to the condition of the heart and the blood vessels that move blood around your body—so it’s vital to look after it. 

Exercise plays a central role in maintaining and improving cardiovascular health, managing key risk factors for heart disease and promoting overall well-being.

Exercise is particularly beneficial to cardiovascular health when it is combined with a heart-healthy diet.

In this article, we will discuss heart-boosting exercises that are suitable for a range of age groups.

The significance of cardiovascular health at every age

As we’ve just seen, maintaining your cardiovascular health is crucial throughout life. People who do not do the recommended amount of physical exercise are at greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and dementia. Being physically active reduces risk factors for type 2 diabetes such as living in a larger body size, high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol.

Age-appropriate workouts play a vital role in promoting cardiovascular health.

Heart-healthy workouts for young adults (ages 18–35)

Starting healthy exercise habits in young adulthood is important for maintaining good physical and mental health throughout life. Here are some heart-healthy workouts for young adults:

  • Cardiovascular workouts such as running, cycling and swimming are great ways to improve heart health. It is recommended that adults do 150–300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (such as brisk walking or cycling) or 75–150 minutes of vigorous exercise (such as running, swimming or boxing) each week.
  • Strength training is any form of exercise that involves using weights or resistance to build strength in your muscles. It’s recommended that muscle-strengthening activities be included as part of your daily exercise on at least 2 days each week.
  • High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a form of cardiovascular exercise that alternates between periods of high intensity and low intensity. An example of HIIT would be to run fast for 30 seconds at a high intensity, followed by a 90-second walk to recover from the sprint.

It’s important to stay motivated and consistent. Some tips for doing that include setting realistic goals, monitoring your progress regularly and exercising with friends and family for social support and accountability.

Heart-boosting workouts for middle-aged adults (ages 36–60)

Heart-boosting workouts are essential for middle-aged adults as they help maintain cardiovascular health and overall wellbeing. Your exercise needs and considerations change in middle age, and it’s important to adapt your workout routine accordingly.

Good cardiovascular exercises for this age group include brisk walking and dancing.

Strength and resistance training are also beneficial as they help maintain muscle and bone strength. This type of training can include weight, strength or resistance training as well as lifting and carrying items such as groceries, climbing stairs and moderate gardening.

Yoga and other flexibility exercises help you move more easily. These activities can include Tai Chi, dancing, gardening and stretching exercises. They not only improve your flexibility but also help in reducing stress and improving mental health.

The recommended types and amounts of exercise per week for this age group are:

  • 2.5–5 hours of moderate-intensity exercise
  • 1.25–2.5 hours of vigorous-intensity exercise.

It is also recommended that middle-aged adults do muscle strengthening activities at least 2 days per week.

Doing exercises you enjoy, varying the type of exercises you do and changing up the locations in which you exercise will help to keep you engaged and motivated.

Heart-healthy workouts for seniors (ages 60+)

Exercising in the senior years helps people maintain good cardiovascular health and overall well-being. 

Walking is a moderate form of exercise that is good for your heart, lungs and blood vessels. It’s recommended that seniors do at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise on most, if not all, days. Walking can strengthen your muscles, help maintain a healthy weight, lower your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes, and improve your balance and coordination.

Water aerobics and swimming are excellent low-impact exercises that are gentle on joints and muscles. These activities can help reduce the risk of health issues, maintain a healthy weight, and improve mental health.

Tai Chi and gentle yoga are flexibility activities that help seniors move more easily. They can improve concentration, reduce stress and anxiety, and are particularly beneficial for people living with osteoporosis as they are weight-bearing and strength activities. Tai Chi and yoga can also improve balance, which can prevent falls and injuries.

Safety considerations for all age groups

Safety is the number-one priority when it comes to exercising at all stages of life. General safety guidelines include:

  • If exercise has not been a regular part of your lifestyle, have a pre-exercise campaign assessment to identify whether you are at risk of experiencing a health problem during physical activity.
  • When deciding if any exercise is safe, consider the technique used as well as your individual condition, such as injury history and fitness level.
  • Be guided by a qualified fitness instructor.
  • Don’t ignore your body’s signals of fatigue, discomfort and pain.
  • Make sure you have at least one recovery day (preferably two) every week.
  • Stop exercising immediately if you experience symptoms such as discomfort or pain.

Customising workouts to individual needs

Customising workouts to individual needs is crucial for effective and safe exercise. Individual health conditions, fitness levels and preferences should help guide workout choices.

Before starting any new exercise program, especially if you are overweight, aged over 40 years, haven’t exercised in a long time or suffer from a chronic medical condition, it’s important to speak to your doctor.

Choose an activity that you find fun. This will help you to integrate it into your daily life. You can think about whether you prefer to spend time indoors or outdoors and whether you prefer to exercise alone or with others.

Workouts can be changed to accommodate special circumstances such as pregnancy or injury recovery. For example, you may have a knee injury that means you cannot go jogging. But you could try swimming or water aerobics.

It can be very beneficial to take a holistic approach to fitness, which means considering not only physical but also mental and emotional wellbeing. Regular exercise can be a good way to boost your mood, reduce stress and improve sleep. It is also known to assist the management of the symptoms of depression and anxiety. 

Staying consistent and motivated

Staying consistent and motivated when following a workout plan for heart health is crucial. Here are some tips and strategies for doing that:

Set realistic goals—setting realistic and achievable goals is an effective way to increase the amount of exercise that you do. Break down your overall health and fitness goal into small, specific and achievable mini-goals.

Track your progress—seeing progress is a great motivator and also improves your self-esteem. As your strength, fitness and balance improve, you can reassess your goals and increase your level of exercise.

Stay motivated—everybody finds it hard to stay motivated from time to time. So before you start, accept that there will be brief setbacks or times when you do not feel like exercising. If this occurs, remind yourself that this is not failure; think about how you can overcome hurdles and pick up where you left off.

Use support systems and ‘accountability partners’—both play a significant role in maintaining long-term health goals. They provide motivation, emotional support and help individuals stay accountable. 


The Life! program can support you to live a healthier lifestyle. 

Life! is a free healthy lifestyle program that helps you improve your eating habits, increase your physical activity and manage stress. The program is for people who are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Life! is run by experienced health professionals, including dietitians and exercise physiologists, who guide and support you to make healthy lifestyle changes. 

The program includes 7 sessions delivered over a 12-month period. You can choose from a group course or our telephone health coaching service. Learn more about the Life! program

You can check your eligibility for the Life! program by taking a quick online test here.


Choose Health: Be Active – Department of Health and Aged Care. 

Exercise and mental health – Better Health Channel. 

Exercise programs – Better Health Channel. 

Exercise safety – Better Health Channel. 

Healthy Eating Active Living – Making activity a habit. 

Heart – Better Health Channel. 

Heart, stroke and vascular disease: Australian facts, About – Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. 

Motivation: How to get started and staying motivated – Health Direct. 

Physical activity – Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. 

Physical activity – choosing the one for you – Better Health Channel. 

Physical activity – it’s important – Better Health Channel. 

Physical activity – setting yourself goals – Better Health Channel. 

Physical activity – staying motivated – Better Health Channel. 

Physical activity and exercise guidelines for all Australians. Department of Health and Aged Care.