Exercising in your thirties

Nicola Pursglove
Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Team Lead at Cromwell Hospital
29 June 2018

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This article is more than three years old. It reflects the best available evidence at the time of publication.

If you're approaching 30 and worried about entering the danger zone of your fourth decade, relax! As you’ll hopefully agree if you’ve already reached that point, there are lots of things to enjoy about your thirties.

These years might see you experience some huge life events, which could sometimes feel equally exciting and tiring – so looking after yourself is really important. Keeping active can be a big part of that. These are my top ideas for exercises to do in your thirties, to help you feel at your best.


Did you know that many of the world’s fastest marathon runners were in their thirties when they entered the record books? Admittedly, they probably spent their teens and twenties building up to this level of achievement, but it still goes to show how far the body can go at this time in life.

You may not want to push things quite that hard, but even just running a couple of kilometres around the block every few days can make a big difference to your health. Importantly for many of us in our thirties, running is something you can do fairly spontaneously and when you find the time. Whether you’re a new parent or have other time commitments such as work, this flexibility makes it a great form of exercise to take up. Our running programmes are a good starting point.

A key point with starting running or any new activity is to pace yourself at first. Unlike in your twenties, where beginning something new can feel like a breeze, I find many of our patients in their thirties have injured themselves from taking up a new sport. Easing yourself in is really important. It’s also vital to have the right equipment, which for running means a well-fitting pair of running shoes.

Couple running up steps


While many of us see friends regularly in our twenties, our thirties can see us drift away from socialising quite as regularly. To counteract this, why not agree to a regular game of tennis with someone you want to see more? Not only will you get to catch up, you could also improve your cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength. Playing tennis is a whole body work out and most of us have a local court nearby. You can find out where on the Lawn Tennis Association website.

The same principle of exercising with a friend applies with all sorts of other sports, from golf to netball. Studies suggest that people are more likely to stay committed to exercise when they have a partner, and you may also find that you push yourself harder. As with running, just make sure that you pace yourself.

A tennis ball balanced on a racket


Pilates involves doing a range of exercises using mats or equipment, to both provide resistance and support for your body. It aims to help your posture, balance and muscles. Many people do Pilates to relax as well as get fit, so it could be a good way to relieve stress if you’re busy at work or just with everyday life.

Pilates has also become particularly popular for women during pregnancy. It can have benefits during this time as it focuses on your tummy, pelvic floor and back muscles. Pilates is also ideal post-pregnancy, once you’ve recovered after giving birth. Research shows that women tend to exercise less after giving birth, despite its benefits – so finding something that works for you and fits into your routine could be worth it. There are also parent and baby exercise classes that can be a lot of fun.

Pregnant women in a pilates class

Keep your muscles and bones strong

Just like in your twenties, strength and resistance exercises are important in your thirties. Investing time in these now will help counter the gradual deterioration in bone and muscle mass that happens to us all as we get older. It will also help keep you fit enough to keep doing any new sports you’ve taken up.

Try the exercises below at home, at the gym, or wherever you can find the space!

Bodyweight squats

Animation of a man doing body squats
  1. Stand with your legs hip width apart.
  2. Start the squat by pushing your hips back and imagine you’re about to sit on a chair.
  3. Hold your arms out in front of you, keeping your back straight and your core strong.
  4. Try to make sure your knees stay directly above your feet and don’t move in front of your toes.

Shoulder presses

Animation of a man doing shoulder press exercises
  1. Holding a pair of dumbbells, bend your elbows and lift your upper arms to shoulder height. The weights should be about level with your ears.
  2. Stretch your arms straight upwards, lifting the dumbbells well above your head. Gently lower them back to the start position and then repeat.

Get more inspiration

If these ideas have got you thinking about taking up something new, take a look at our information about getting started with exercise. Don’t forget too that a healthy diet is a vital counterpart to being active.

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Nicola Pursglove
Nicola Pursglove
Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Team Lead at Cromwell Hospital

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