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Staying Fit Through The Decades Of Life

I was recently asked why I, 20 days shy of turning 30, exercise. The more I thought about it, the more I realized the reasons and methodology have been dependent on the stage of my life. For example, in junior high, I exercised as I learned a skill (volleyball, basketball, track). In college, I was in a constant state of yo-yo dieting mixed with extreme fitness. I exercise because…

These days I combine strength training, cardio and yoga. I do this because I want to fit comfortably in my jeans and stay strong enough to keep up with my three, high-energy kids. Life can be stressful and exercising is a huge stress reliever for me. As cliché as it might sound, we must learn to embrace exercise as a lifestyle. This is the key to a happy and healthy life.

My 85-year-old grandmother understands this idea perfectly. Every week, you can find her power walking the mall. She’s not doing the same exercises as her almost 30-year-old granddaughter because that doesn’t make sense. My grandmother has made it to 85 because she lives well. She lives well because she has embraced exercise as a lifestyle. See how that works?

If you become winded from simply walking to the mailbox, don’t expect yourself to chase the grandkids around the baseball diamond. More than anything, we need to take care of the only body we will ever have. Are you interested in how to do that? Read on.

TWENTIES

In your 20s, your body is so strong you can actually get away with abusing it. We punish it with late nights and bad eating habits. Luckily you can drop pounds more quickly at this point than any other time in your life. Your body will respond to most forms of exercise.

Exercise plan: 30 minutes of weight training followed by 30 minutes of cardio 3x a week, plus 45 to 60 minutes of straight cardio 3x a week. One day of rest.

THIRTIES

Your metabolism starts to slow down significantly after 30. Depressing, right? While body fat starts to increase, lean muscle begins to decrease. Consistent exercise is most important in this decade.

Your body will not look that much different between 31 and 39 if you’ve maintained a healthy lifestyle. But if not, you’ll see a drastic change in muscle tone, weight and shape. Staying fit is also more difficult because of new responsibilities in the form of a family, job, home, etcetera.

Exercise plan: To make the most of your time, circuit train with intervals 4x a week. Continue with 45-60 minutes of cardio once a week (try hiking or biking with loved ones).

FORTIES

Things start to really change in this decade. Hormones and gravity are working against you and your metabolism is even slower! At 40, a man’s testosterone starts to drop. He can lose 5-8 percent of muscle mass per decade.

The composition of your body
starts to change as you may not gain
a single pound, yet your jeans will
not fit anymore. Your waistline can start to disappear. If you did not embrace strength training in your 30s, now is the time to start. Weight training (8 pound free weights) will increase your metabolism, burn calories while you’re recovering and keep your body in place.

Exercise plan: Strength train 2-3x a week, circuit train 1x and continue with one session of 45-60 minutes
of cardio.

FIFTIES

At this point, the loss of muscle and tone can really make a difference. It can even start to affect your posture. Once a woman enters menopause, she can gain an average of 12 pounds in the years to come. Consistent exercise will keep your metabolism up and the weight down. Again, weight training is even more important now as the more strenuous, circuit-training workouts start to impact your joints and knees.

Exercise plan: Strength train 3x a week with moderate weights: 5-8lb. Add moderate cardio 3x a week for 30 minutes at a time. Moderate = light jogging (more rigorous than walking).

SIXTIES

You need to be conscious of your knees, joints and lower back. Continue (or start) strength training and use lighter weights along with body weight exercises like modified push ups and squats. This is when yoga practice is important for balance and flexibility.

Exercise plan: Strength train 2x a week and moderate cardio 3x a week, 30 minutes at a time. Add a yoga class for beginners; be sure to work
on balance poses.

SEVENTIES

Your fitness goals at this point are to increase the quality of life. You want a strong body and a healthy heart. Balance training become even more important to prevent falls. Exercising in groups is also highly recommended so that the instructor can watch form. Look for group classes that target seniors, light strength training classes (usually seated) and yoga for balance.

Exercise plan: Light strength training 2x a week, vigorous walking 3x a week for 30 minutes and practice a balance pose daily.

Let today’s workouts payoff tomorrow. It is the best preventative form of medicine and is made easiest when taken on as a lifestyle—as your lifestyle. Let’s get moving!