THIS ARTICLE FIRST APPEARED ON MOTHER EARTH NEWS.
Enjoy the benefits of regular exercise with these workout tips for every age.
Exercise benefits us in so many ways that it’s hard to name them all. From improving our physical fitness and reducing the risk of a huge array of diseases to helping reduce stress and improve mental health, the benefits exercise offers us throughout our lives are undeniable. Yet many of us don’t make time for exercise — in fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 80 percent of American adults do not meet the government’s recommendations for physical activity. What’s more, those most likely to exercise regularly are the youngest adults, age 18 to 24. This is a shame considering exercise’s ability to profoundly affect the symptoms of aging, including joint pain, muscle loss, balance limitations and increased risk of disease.
We believe living a naturally healthful lifestyle begins with the foundation of healthy eating and a regular exercise regimen. Read the following tips to stay active at any age. Note: If you are just beginning a fitness regimen, it’s wise to consult your physician to get customized recommendations on the amount and intensity of exercise that is appropriate for you. This is especially important if you have any type of health condition.
In our 30s, our bodies first begin age-related muscle loss, also known as sarcopenia. Physically inactive people can expect to lose three to five percent of their muscle mass each decade after 30. While some of this is inevitable, weight training during this decade is helpful to retain muscle, as well as to begin to strengthen bones, which becomes increasingly important with age. Building muscle will also help prevent losses in metabolism that accompany both aging and muscle loss.
The 30s are the busiest decade of life for many adults, as this is typically when we are building our careers and potentially raising families. That means many 30-somethings are strapped for time. Get the most bang for your workout buck by choosing high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts, which research supports as the most efficient type of workout. With HIIT workouts, you can experience significant fitness improvements in time periods as short as 20 minutes. You’ll find a huge array of HIIT workouts available if you look online. The easiest way to do your own HIIT workout is by alternating periods of intensity with periods of relative rest. For example, alternate sprinting at your highest capacity and walking. You can choose from a variety of time frames (intense for 40 seconds, rest for 20 seconds; intense for 1 minute, rest for 1 minute, etc.); some experts suggest the best option is to customize your HIIT workout to your body. This means simply work at your highest possible intensity for as long as you can maintain it, then rest until you feel partially but not entirely recovered, and start again.
Because in our 30s our bodies are resilient, it’s also a great time to experiment with different types of workouts. Diversity is an excellent feature of a good workout routine, as it challenges new muscle groups and keeps workouts interesting. Diversity is also valuable in that it will inform you of the types of exercise you find most enjoyable, most challenging, most effective, most stress-reducing, etc. This knowledge will serve you well as you continue your exercise routine throughout your life. From yoga, tai chi, qigong and karate to mountain climbing, trail riding, swimming and dancing, the options of exercises to try are expansive.
Aim for 3 to 4 HIIT workouts per week; 2 resistance workouts per week; trying one new exercise activity monthly.
Our 40s are quite possibly the years of our lives when it’s most critical to maintain a regular exercise routine. Research by experts at the University of Houston has confirmed that it’s during our mid-40s that we experience key changes that can accelerate our bodies’ natural decline in middle age, particularly a decrease in cardiorespiratory fitness. Lower fitness levels increase our risk of developing a range of conditions including obesity, heart problems, stroke and some cancers. Social changes and new nagging pains often mean 40-somethings work out less than they should, yet by exercising regularly during this time of life, we can literally add years to our lives. Regular exercise is associated with greater longevity, and exercise is the best way to resist the effects of aging that begin to accelerate during this decade.
The 40s is also when most women experience perimenopause — the four to 10 years leading up to menopause in which most women’s estrogen levels begin to drop. Declining estrogen levels can mean potential weight gain, especially an increase in fat in the abdomen, which can be particularly harmful for heart health. Combat this by keeping up with high-intensity cardio workouts. If you have nagging pains in your joints, consider switching to low-impact cardio such as cycling and swimming, although weight-bearing exercises like walking, running and jumping are also important as they help preserve bone density. Many HIIT-style workouts can also be followed using lower-impact versions of the exercises.
Finally, during this time of life, our muscles begin to lose both mass and elasticity, which can slow metabolism and
increase the likelihood of injury. Avert this by regularly stretching — yoga and Pilates are both excellent, low-impact methods to keep muscles toned and supple. Some people also begin to experience increased sleep problems as hormones and body chemistry change, and yoga and stretching can help improve sleep.