By Betty Murray
Staying active throughout your life is important, but exercise becomes even more important as you age. Many health conditions are associated with age, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and colon cancer, but being physically active can lower your risk of developing these and other health issues.
Whether you are 25 or 65, your exercise program should include aerobic activity (cardio), strength training, and stretching — how you accomplish each of these may change with age. Here is your guide to exercising in your 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s+.
Exercise in your 20s
Your body is strong and resilient during your 20s, so take advantage of that and be willing to explore new forms of exercise. Shoot for 45-60 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio exercise four to six days a week, being sure to alternate between different types of activities. Add strength training in at least once or twice each week to build your bone and muscle strength, which will naturally begin to decline when you hit 30.
Exercise in your 30s
During your thirties is when you will probably begin to notice signs of aging, such as weight gain, or that it takes you longer to recover from strenuous activity, injury, or even illness. Strength training, cardio, and stretching are all important, and you should vary the different kinds of exercise you do each day to ensure your body is getting all three. Your 30s is a great time to participate in team games such as dodge ball, ultimate Frisbee, or a community soccer league. If you enjoy being active with others, take advantage of that now, while you are still less prone to injury and have more strength and power than you will when you are older.
Exercise in your 40s
If you have lived a lifestyle of inactivity most of your life, your 40s is when you will start to reap the consequences of unhealthy habits. Cancer, heart disease, and diabetes are on the rise among middle-aged adults.
During your 40s, strength training isn’t just something that’s good to do, it’s something you must be doing. Think of it as a “use it or lose it” scenario. Without regular strength training, muscular performance declines after age 40. If you want to maintain your muscles as you age, strength training must be a priority. Strength training will also help keep your bones strong and help you avoid frailty when you are older.
Regular stretching is also more important now than ever before. Yoga and Pilates are great forms of exercise for both strengthening and stretching your muscles.
Exercise in your 50s+
These are the golden years of life, as you will enjoy the fruits of all of your labor. You want to be strong and healthy for your grandchildren, so don’t let exercise slack just because you’re getting older. For women, menopause often begins in this decade, and that can mean an increased risk of bone loss, osteoporosis, heart disease, and weight gain. Weight-bearing exercises can help slow bone loss in middle-aged and older people. Try exercises like stair climbing, tennis, weight lifting, walking, and jogging.
Now is also the time to begin to incorporate balance training into your exercise routine, as balance is often one of the first things to go as we get older. You can practice your balance with simple exercises at home, like standing on one foot while brushing your teeth. Yoga can also help improve balance.
Betty Murray, CN, HHC, RYT is a Certified Nutritionist & Holistic Health Counselor, founder of the Dallas-based integrative medical center, Wellness and founder of the Metabolic Blueprint wellness program. Betty’s nutrition counseling practice specializes in metabolic and digestive disorders and weight loss resistance. A master of the biochemistry of the body, Betty teaches her clients how to utilize nutritional interventions to improve their health. Betty is a member of the Institute of Functional Medicine and the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.