Fitness By The Decades:
In your 20s
These are the years where our mistakes vis-à-vis our body doesn’t show. It is also the best time to build our fitness foundation. Building your lean muscle mass and making your bones stronger now will put you in a position where you can afford to lose some muscle mass and bone density in your later years. In your 20s your workout should include strength-training and body weight exercises like pushups and lunges couple of times a week and 30 minutes of cardio three to five days a week. Now is a good time to try out new types of workout as the body is very resilient. However, this is also the age when an individual tends to pay scant attention to essentials like posture and form – so avoid these potholes. This is also the time to train yourself in dealing with life and its problems in a healthy manner - as in opting for meditation or a jog to calm down after a hard day at work instead of heading to the nearest burger joint.
In your 30s
If you have always focused on a particular sport or activity to stay fit, now is time to diversify. Cross-training helps prevent imbalance and overuse injuries. Thus mix up your tennis with resistance training and your cycling with running. In fact no matter what your age you must remember to train like a triathlete and intersperse running with biking or swimming to avoid injuries. Cycling uses the quadriceps and running is mainly a hamstring activity. If these muscles are strengthened in an imbalanced manner, injuries can occur. Or, if you like swimming, remember to get your quota of backstroke in to the mix as this will stretch the pectoral muscles and work the muscles between the shoulder blades that will help stabilize the spine.
Make sure that your fitness regimen includes flexibility exercises to loosen tight muscles, preserve range of motion, and improve balance. Activities like yoga, tai chi, or dancing are ideal. Primarily because now is the time when fitness has to be really interesting. In our 30s, we are pulled in a million different directions by our family and work commitments so our fitness program has to be interesting enough to keep us committed. Time is also limited, which is why interval training which burns more calories in less time works fine for many in their 30s. And head to the weight rack now. Your bones will thank you for the same.
In your 40s
For most of us, this is the time when our kids are no longer dependant infants or toddlers. In fact some of us may even be dealing with the empty nest syndrome. If you are a man, your testosterone starts to drop along with 5 percent or more of muscle mass per decade. Women too find themselves dealing with peri-menopause or menopause and loss of muscles mass as estrogen levels decrease. It is vital at this stage to preserve your lean muscle mass and keep the metabolic rate high and burn calories optimally. This is also the decade when fat settles in deep in to the belly (visceral fat). Sure, you may look the same on the outside but you may be packing the fat in deeper – this makes a consistent exercise program essential. Ensure that you continue to do a combination of high-intensity exercise and strength training, besides body weight bearing exercises like jogging or walking.
In your 50s
There is no escaping the aches and niggles now and you will have to adapt your fitness program to your rather ‘new’ body. You may need to replace some old favourites like running with new ones like swimming. Try yoga and Pilates to stretch and strengthen and also prevent getting a dowager’s hump. 30 minutes of aerobic activity five times a week will help you keep your heart in good health. Keep the intensity levels of your exercises at mild to moderate. In fact if you are maintaining the intensity levels at mild levels you may even be able to do the activity like swimming or walking 7 days a week. If you are however not yet willing to give up on your running or tennis, then ensure that your consult your physician. Exercising consistently in your 50s is not just about having a great body and being healthy it is also about keeping diseases like osteoporosis at bay.
Exercising regularly into your 60s will improve factors like your balance and even improve your odds of surviving a fall. Continuing with weight training is important for your bone strength. At this age, it is more advisable to do your weight and resistance training under the eagle eye of a certified fitness professional to avoid injuries. One should also focus on cardiovascular fitness, namely, building and maintaining lung and heart strength through low-impact aerobic exercises like swimming, walking, badminton, bowling and even gardening. Pelvic exercises will keep stress incontinence at bay. In your 60s, it is sufficient to get in about 30 minutes of exercise a day, 3 to 5 times a week.
In your 70s and 80s
Walking is one of the best exercises at this age as in these years rigorous workouts are not required. However continue to work on strength, flexibility and balance. Yoga and swimming are also great exercise options. Regular exercise in to your 80s will not just give you a healthier life it will also give you the physical and emotional tools to maintain your independence.