Anti-aging Fitness Plan: Optimal Exercise for Each Decade
It’s no secret that as we age we need to be cognizant of the fact that we’re not as young as we once were. This doesn’t need to be a bad thing; growing older is a privilege denied to many, as they say. Particularly as we get older and accept the aging process for what it is, hopefully we can find some wisdom in that. That we don’t need to beat ourselves up in order to maintain our fitness… and perhaps that by consciously choosing not to beat ourselves up, we can even allow our good health and fitness to continue flourishing long into our golden years.
You wouldn’t train a puppy by smacking it around with a newspaper, because that would create an unfavorable response. It helps to think of training your body in a similar way. Treat it with love and respect, and it’s much more apt to give you what you want.
As we get older, there’s a point where each of us has to recognize that perhaps jogging 30 miles per week is not the greatest thing for your joints anymore. Just like that puppy is giving you all it’s got, your knees have done the same. Show them your appreciation, and go easy on them when they need it, and chances are really good their going to keep trying for you, for as long as they can.
The trick with exercise at any age, for the vast majority of us, is simply not to overdo it. There is no need to beat yourself up. Your body, just like every other sentient being on this earth, is just trying to find balance. Regular exercise and a proper diet are definitely part of that, but if the exercise has begun to hurt, it’s time to assess whether you should move on to something a little more… your new speed. Here are some exercise ideas for each decade of life; little ways you can honor where you’re at right now. And later.
For your 20’s and 30’s
Go crazy buddy, you’re young. What is great to focus on now, is simply building healthy habits. Get all the partying out of your system. Get a routine going. Learn how to build fitness into your life, as opposed to making it a chore. In your 30’s you might find work beginning to occupy more of your time, or you might have a child or two by then. Having already cemented good exercise habits into your life will make it easier to spend your lunch break at the gym or on a run, instead of talking shop with your coworkers. It will make it easier to know that 45 minutes of Pilates will go a long way toward boosting your self-esteem, in addition to actually giving you back the washboard abs you had before Junior came along. (1)
For your 40’s
It’s strange how everything used to be, like, an inch or two higher. And it’s a real bummer when you start to figure out that gravity is what’s doing it and she ain’t even close to done yet. Chin up, friend. Both of them.
Joking aside, gravity is going to win. That’s a sad fact. But you’re still plenty young, and it’s never too late to begin, or renew, your relationship with your body.
Your 40’s are a veritable roller coaster ride of hormones, bizarre aches and pains, and random fat deposits. Please don’t let this get you down. Please. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to focus on weight bearing exercise to maintain muscle, and mind your calorie intake… more so than you may have had to in the past.
The composition of your body is changing, that’s a biological fact, but it doesn’t need to torpedo your overall health. In fact it can help keep you on the straight and narrow. (1)
Your 50’s and 60’s
This is the time when the one-two punch of laziness and aches and pains can really take hold. Your 50’s want you on the couch, so you’re going to need to be aware of that and fight it tooth and nail. Your knees may also suggest that couch time is in order, so it’s another great time to reassess what you’ve been doing for exercise and modify as necessary. Balance and flexibility are no longer negotiable, so yoga, tai chi and these kinds of activities will help with that. While these are kind to your joints, the most kindness to your joints can be had with no impact at all, in activities such as swimming. So hop in the pool and take a lap or two. Ooooh! Maybe water aerobics! (1)
Your 70’s and beyond
Maintaining a healthy relationship with your body has served you well in life, and will be key as you move forward. Focus on what feels good and empowering to you. Try dancing… perhaps ballroom dancing, or maybe it’s time to finally take up the Tango. If you play your cards right, you’ll have earned this freedom of movement. Enjoy it. Many people can’t say they’re so comfortable in their bodies by their 70’s, but you aren’t one of those people. Well done.
Regular exercise is linked to decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and even cancer. It’s widely believed that a lot of common symptoms of aging are made worse with inactivity. So, no matter where you are on your fitness journey… get up, stand up! Simply getting off the couch will go a long way toward staving off the effects of aging. Every bit helps.
Ways That Exercise Can Accelerate Aging
Some folks believe that too much of a good thing is wonderful. But where exercise is concerned, that just isn’t true! While it is extremely important to maintain overall physical fitness as we age, it’s also important that we not overdo it in any one particular area. Our bodies are always striving for balance… evenness. If we push it too hard in one way, or cut corners in another, that’s going to end up rearing its ugly head somehow. A bit like Whack-a-Mole: Cardio Version. So while you’re most definitely digging the effect of all those squats right now, your knees may not be feeling the joy. Here are some of the ways that your exercise could be actually aging you… and what you can do about it.
Take A Load Off, Dude
If you never take a break from your exercise routine, you need to question the wisdom of that. Particularly if you’re past your 20’s, when it takes no time at all for your muscles to recover. By the time you’re in your 40’s your muscles need up to 3 days to recover from an intense workout. So if you’re not taking periodic rests, you’re not giving your poor muscles the time they need to rebuild. If you’re just pounding the pavement every day because that’s what you think you should do, stop. You’re going to grind every part of you down to nothing at all: your joints, muscles, and even your will to exercise. When that happens, it’s curtains for your fitness in any kind of meaningful way. (1)
Mix It Up, Buttercup
Only doing cardio, or only weightlifting, is one great way to really start aging your body. You need both things. Without any kind of weight training at all, it won’t be long before you start losing muscle tone. And that’s not what we associate youthfulness with… no, when we think “young”, we think ripply muscles and abs for days.
Likewise, if you’re only doing weight training, you might have the buns of steel you’ve been looking for but your muscles, cells and organs don’t have the oxygen they’ve been looking for. Oxygen, is what these guys work for… aerobic exercise, is their payday. So you need both. Not just cardio, not just weights. One without the other will make you old before your time. (2)
Adore The Floor Of Your Core
A strong core is more than just 6-pack abs. In fact, some might say that 6-pack abs doesn’t necessarily mean a strong core at all. To the trained eye, that seems a little unbalanced, unless it’s backed up with a ripply back too. Your pelvic floor, also known as your perineum, is really the base of it all. This magical muscle, located right where the sun don’t shine, is your core’s connection to the ground, your feet, by way of your adductors, aka your inner thighs. A strong pelvic floor with do everything from assist with balance, to stopping you peeing when you sneeze. Failing to work this area will result in a weaker core all around, which makes falls and injuries much more likely. Kegels and adductor work: it’s where intelligent core work happens. (3)
Get Warm To Your Form
Similar to understanding how your core isn’t just your front, good form isn’t just for career athletes or body builders. If you’re not performing your squats right, or if your Warrior Pose is a little off and you don’t care… it will catch up with you. Take the time to learn how to do your exercises right… if you’re not stacking your bones correctly, you’re setting yourself up for injury and a host of problems down the line. Sure, you might be able to get away with added stress on your knee joint now, but when it’s had it, it’s had it my friend. That means no more of anything of the sort like that for you, and that’s another branch of the “use it or lose it” tree: Use it right, or lose it right quick.
Just Say No To Cheap Shoes
With the proliferation of athleisure wear etc., the fitness industry has made a point of driving home the idea that if you aren’t looking cute and matchy at the gym, you’re not doing it right.
No girl, you do not need the latest butt-lifting leggings in order to attain a new level of fitness, but you do need well-made shoes. They don’t have to be the most expensive, but don’t go bargain basement either! Take your time, read the reviews, ask questions, and shop around. Get shoes that will be your partner in the gym, and in your workout. Get shoes that will really support you, and don’t worry about if they’re cute. Your plantar fascia don’t care if they’re cute… they care if they’ve got support. Give your body, and specifically your feet, what is needed to excel, and you’ll never be sorry. (4)
But get the trendy leggings, and if they’re see-through like Lulu, you may actually be quite sorry indeed! (5)
Exercise is meant to keep you feeling youthful and alive. Don’t let anything come between you and that feeling, least of all the exercise itself!