Exercising in your twenties

Lucie Roux
Physiotherapist at Bupa UK
26 April 2018

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

You may not feel this way after a big night out, but your body is capable of doing amazing things in your twenties. 

Your muscles and bones are likely to be as strong now as they’ll ever be. And keeping fit this decade could set you up for better health in the future, including a lower risk of heart disease.

So which exercises should you focus on? The most important thing at this time is probably having fun, experimenting and seeing what you enjoy the most. The health benefits should then come naturally. Check out the tips below for some training inspiration.

Strength training

Why not capitalise on your muscles and bones being at their peak? Focus on doing exercises that build your muscle strength and bone density. This can have lots of benefits. To take one example, building bone density now could help prevent osteoporosis in the future. Here are some exercises you could try for starters.


  • Start by going down on all fours.
  • Fully extend your body and keep yourself propped up on your forearms.
  • Hold the pose for five to ten seconds, depending on how comfortable it feels. Don’t overdo it!

A GIF demonstrating the plank exercise

Standing dumbbell row

  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand
  • Stand with your legs straight and your upper body leaning forward slightly.
  • Have your arms dropped down in front of you. The dumbbells should be almost level with your knees.
  • Gradually straighten your upper body, lifting the dumbbells up at the same time.
  • Bend your elbows outwards, bringing the dumbbells about level with your chin.

A GIF demonstrating standing dumbbell row exercise

Lunge with twist

  • From a standing position, step forward and drop your body to a kneeling position.
  • You should have one leg kneeling in front of you and the other pulled out behind you.
  • Keeping your legs where they are, and your hands held outwards, twist your upper body to one side.

A GIF demonstrating a lunge with twist exercise

High-intensity interval training (HIIT)

Not much free time in your schedule? Lots of us work hard and play hard in our twenties, leaving little time for much else. This is where HIIT can be ideal. It’s all about short, high-energy training that you do in short bursts, which can help to increase your cardiovascular fitness.

Follow our video routine below to get started. Just remember to be careful and seek advice from a doctor or physiotherapist if you’re worried about doing high-intensity exercise. Aside from potentially a bit of muscle soreness, which should settle within one or two days, you shouldn’t feel any pain after doing these exercises.


It’s really important to wind down as well as up. Yoga is a great way to relax while toning your body and increasing your flexibility. It can really compliment any high-intensity exercise you’re doing, and starting yoga now could set you up with good fitness for your thirties.

Yoga has become popular for all genders. Some gyms and health centres even run ‘broga’ classes to encourage more men to take part!

One important yoga pose is the ‘cat-cow’. Practising this pose can help you loosen you up. It could also relive tension in your back.

  • Go down on all fours and arch your back inwards slightly. This is the cow pose.
  • Pushing your arms towards the ground, arch your back upwards. This is the cat pose – think of a cat stretching!

A GIF demonstrating the cat-cow yoga pose

Group sports and activities

If socialising and meeting new people are important to you at this stage in your life, group sports and activities could be perfect. You could find out what classes are happening at your local gym or leisure centre. It’s also worth seeing what’s going on at your local park – lots of them have weekend boot camps or free 5k park runs. If you want to build yourself up to a 5k run, take a look at our 5k running programme

There are so many activities you can do in a group – from karate to swimming, football, climbing or roller derby. The BBC Sport Get Inspired page gives an introduction to some of these and allows you to search for activities near you.

Photo of a man playing basketball


You might be the king or queen of the dancefloor on a Saturday night. But how about using dancing as a way to get fit? Perhaps as part of a class, or even at home if you have enough room?

Dancing can also have a range of mental health and wellbeing benefits, and there are lots of different types to suit different tastes. Why not think about taking up:

  • tango
  • salsa
  • street dance
  • ballet
  • zumba

See our blog about the health benefits of dancing for more inspiration and for details of how to find classes in your area.

Photo of young women dancing in a dance studio

Find out what suits you best

I hope at least one of the ideas on this blog has sparked your interest and makes you want to get moving. Ultimately, when you’re in your twenties, it’s all about having fun at the same time as getting fit – so try things out and see what you enjoy!

If you have a muscle, bone or joint problem, our direct access service aims to provide you with the advice, support and treatment you need as quickly as possible. If you’re covered by your health insurance, you’ll be able to get advice from a physiotherapist usually without the need for a GP referral. Learn more today.

Lucie Roux
Lucie O’Shaughnessy
Physiotherapist at Bupa UK

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