Divas Through The Decades: How To Be Fit At Any Age

 

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Age ain’t nothing but a number, however when it comes to your personal fitness and being a healthy, your date of birth can play a larger role than you think. Every decade has it’s own decadent needs, so keep reading to find out what you should or shouldn’t be indulging it at your current FitGirl age.

In Your 20’s

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The Pros: Ah to be forever young! Your body is definitely surging with everything you need to be in the best shape ever. For instance, the hormone that aids in muscle building (testosterone) is plentiful in this decade and thanks to your stored mitochondria you are able to bounce back quick after both injury and tough sweat sessions.

The Cons: So here’s the challenge- since you are most likely at the entry level of finally flying solo, lots of takeout, social events galore and weekend drinking binges can easily rule your nights and therefore diet.

The Game Plan: Don’t let today’s revved-up metabolism develop bad habits. Recognize your ability to splurge a bit more than others while still inviting some good habits to the party too. The more you make fitness and health a priority now, the stronger your future decade’s foundation will be.

1) Be a cross-training queen by trying a variety of workouts

2) Ditch diets and don’t dip too low. Your weight is only a teensy part of who you are, so don’t stress so much about this number.

3) Catch those zzz’s. Yeah you may be able to pull an all-nighter more than most, but skimping on sleep now is so not worth the problems this bad habit will cause later.

In Your 30’s

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The Pros: Hello more confidence! Your 30s allow you to be more connected to yourself than ever. You are at your peak and you ought to praise and pump iron because of it. Seriously, your body’s strength, endurance and coordination all come together in a optimal way during this decade, so renew that gym membership already girl.

The Cons: Hate to be a Debbie Downer, but once you make it mid way through this decade your metabolism starts to stall and muscle mass starts to shrink. The weight war is on and unless you lift weights and get your muscle mass weight up it is going to be an uphill battle from here sis. I know, everything is buzzing this decade- your career, relationships, starting a family etc., but make sure you make time for your health too.

The Game Plan: Work harder not smarter. Hit up workouts that are intense yet short (interval training) and you will not only save time but build a stronger and sleeker physique in the process. That and, once again, weight train. However in regard to your diet, this decade eliminate unnecessary bloating by nixing excess caffeine and sodium. Oh and drink your milk. Whatever is in your calcium bank after this decade is there to stay so get your daily needs in for sure.

In Your 40’s

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The Pros:  The good news is that by now you most likely know what you want and what you don’t. Add this security to some good old willpower and your efforts can be quite transformative. So whether you’ve been in the gym all along or have completely given up on all things sweaty, this is the decade to count on your wisdom as motivation to keep on, or get moving.

The Cons: Here come the bounce back blues. Your ability to recover after a tough workout or impromptu shop til you drop shopping spree even is not as strong anymore. Add this to the your already declining metabolism, bone and muscle mass loss that started last decade and you have entered the land of “not being active = not being an option.” The longevity of you health is depending on your health and fitness commitments now more than ever.

The Game Plan: Get creative about your workouts and you will be more likely to stick to them. Bump up your weight training while inviting relaxing practices like yoga and meditation to your regimen and flex both your muscles and your mind. Oh and know this–flexibility is also your friend when it comes to your diet. Start focusing on foods that are rich in good carbs, lean protein and healthy fat and ban cutting calories once and for all.

In Your 50’s

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The Pros: You have entered the land of milk and honey and are most likely enjoying the fruits of your labor now. All this ultimately means that life should be becoming both simpler and sweeter. Your body has been through so much at this point and you appreciate it more for what it can do and has endured as opposed to simply how it looks. So rejoice in these golden days and truly enjoy all their glory.

The Cons: Meet menopause. Your estrogen production is declining, and if you continue to skip exercise you can expect up to a 30 percent decline in bone mass–setting yourself up for osteoporosis. Also at this point your body doesn’t process protein as well as it used to back in the day so you’re going to have to slightly exceed the recommend daily amount of 46 grams now too.

The three things you absolutely must do during this decade is:

1) Reduce stress. Chronic stress throws off the regulation of the primary stress hormone cortisol which can ultimately cause weight gain (often times in the abdomen).

2) Don’t skip meals. Aim for three square meals or six mini-meals everyday in order to avoid dips in blood sugar.

3) Sleep at least 8-10 hours a night. Lack of sleep has been strongly associated with weight gain due to a variety of physiologic changes that take place. Think of it has a free beauty treatment since good sleep will help do more for your skin than a facial.

What are you doing to be fit at any age?!

In your 60′s

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How much physical activity do older adults in their 60′s and over need to do to keep healthy?

At least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as cycling or fast walking every week, and muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs,
hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).
75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity such as running or a game of singles tennis every week, and muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips,
back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and
arms).

An equivalent mix of moderate and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity every week (for example two 30-minute runs plus 30 minutes of fast walking), and
muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).

What counts as moderate-intensity aerobic activity?
Examples of activities that require moderate effort for most people include:

Walking fast doing water aerobics, ballroom and line dancing, riding a bike on level ground or with few hills playing doubles tennis, pushing a lawn mower and volleyball.

Every little helps

Inactive people get more immediate health benefits from being active again than people who are already fit. Some activity is better than none at all.

Moderate-intensity activity will raise your heart rate and make you breathe faster and feel warmer. One way to tell if you’re exercising at a moderate intensity is if you can still talk but you can’t sing the words to a song.

Daily activities such as shopping, cooking or housework count towards your 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity.

It is also important to minimise the amount of time you spend sitting watching TV, reading or listening to music. Some activity, however light, is better for your health than none at all.

What counts as vigorous-intensity aerobic activity?
Examples of activities that require vigorous effort for most people include:

Jogging or running, aerobics, swimming, fastriding a bike fast or on hills playing singles tennis, playing football,hiking up hill and energetic dancing.

Vigorous-intensity aerobic activity means you’re breathing hard and fast, and your heart rate has gone up quite a bit. If you’re working at this level, you won’t be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath.

In general, 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity can give similar health benefits to 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity.

What counts as muscle-strengthening activity?
Muscle-strengthening exercises are counted in repetitions and sets. A repetition is one complete movement of an activity, like lifting a weight or doing a sit-up. A set is a group of repetitions.

For each activity, try to do 8 to 12 repetitions in each set. Try to do at least 1 set of each muscle-strengthening activity. You’ll get even more benefits if you do 2 or 3 sets.

Preventing falls
Older adults at risk of falls, such as people with weak legs, poor balance and some medical conditions, should do exercises to improve balance and co-ordination on at least two days a week. These could include yoga, tai chi and dancing.

To gain health benefits from muscle-strengthening activities, you should do them to the point where you find it hard to complete another repetition.

There are many ways you can strengthen your muscles, whether at home or in the gym. Examples of muscle-strengthening activities include:

Carrying or moving heavy loads such as groceries, activities that involve stepping and jumping such as dancing, heavy gardening, such as digging or shovelling, exercises that use your body weight for resistance, such as push-ups or sit-ups and yoga.

You can do activities that strengthen your muscles on the same day or on different days as your aerobic activity, whatever’s best for you.

However, muscle-strengthening activities don’t count towards your aerobic activity total, so you’ll need to do them in addition to your aerobic activity.

Some vigorous-intensity aerobic activities may provide 75 minutes of aerobic activity and sufficient muscle-strengthening activity. Examples include circuit training and sports such as aerobic dancing or running.

In your 70′s and over

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You lose about half of your muscle mass between the ages of 30 and 80. This natural consequence of aging reduces strength, slows metabolism, degrades key body functions such as cardiovascular performance and bone health, and can compromise longevity. What can you do about it – whether you’re 30 or 80 – to make sure you’re as healthy as possible for as long as possible? Stay active.

Not only can physical activity make the difference between becoming decrepit or staying fit and vital, it has now been identified as a major factor contributing directly to how long we can live. For example, Jeremy M. Jacobs, from Hebrew University Hadassah Medical School (Jerusalem, Israel), and colleagues examined the effects of continuing, increasing or decreasing physical activity on levels on survival, function and health status among the very old.

In their study involving 1,861 men and women, 70 to 88 years of age, and lasting for 18 years, the researchers found that elderly men and women who are physically active (four or more hours of physical activity per day) increase their chances of living longer and maintaining functional independence compared to their sedentary peers (less than four hours of physical activity daily). Among active 70-year-olds, the team found that only 15 percent died over the next eight years (pretty good, considering their age), compared to 27 percent of sedentary 70-year-olds. The differences were progressively more pronounced the older people got: Eight-year mortality was 26 percent for active 78-year-olds and 41 percent for sedentary peers; and among 85-year-olds, three-year mortality was roughly 7 percent for active individuals as compared to 24 percent for sedentary counterparts.

Not convinced yet? After all, four hours of physical activity daily may sound like quite a challenge. Well, here are a few other studies that suggest staying consistently active can contribute to a longer, better, healthier life.

Staying fit when you’re young is often less of a conscious effort than it is just a by-product of scrambling around experiencing everything life has to offer. As you age, if you’ve been committed to a fitness program, whether it be running, swimming or practicing yoga in order to stay fit, then unless you’ve been stricken by infirmity, there’s no reason to give it up. In fact, there’s evidence to prove that staying active well into your senior years will benefit you in every way. How to stay fit when you’re 70 or older just involves choosing the right activity.

Step 1

Plan on at least 30 minutes of brisk walking, jogging, swimming or cycling most days of the week to build or maintain your endurance. If you were a walker, runner or cyclist in your middle years, there’s no reason to give it up in your 70’s. Keep your doctor up to date with your activities during your yearly physical. As long as she is aware of your fitness program and can see no physical reason for you to stop training, then hit the road for some cardio. Go to the ACE Fitness website to plug your age into the target heart rate calculator. The maximum heart rate you should not exceed during a cardio workout varies with age.

Step 2

Start lifting. Being able to take care of your home and even lift a grand baby or two means proactively keeping up your strength. Buy a set of weights that includes two and five lb. dumbbells if you are a women and buy seven and ten lb. dumbbells if you are a man. Refer to the National Institute for Aging’s website for a strength training schedule. Along with safety tips, you’ll enjoy the detailed descriptions and picture of each strength training move. Devote 20 to 30 minutes at least two days a week to building your strength with weights

Step 3

Hit the mat. “Yoga in America” was a study conducted by “Yoga Journal” in 2008 which determined that of the 15.8 million people who practiced yoga, 18.4 percent were over the age of 55. If you have never attempted yoga, now’s the time to start. Staying fit in your 70’s has a lot to do with keeping your balance; many of the yoga poses are targeted towards helping you stay balanced and flexible. In addition, yoga poses can be adapted to any fitness level, body type and age.

Step 4

Join a sports league for seniors. Playing sports helps keep you fit when you’re 70. One of the advantages of age is that you have a lifetime of experience from which to draw and that can help you determine which activities you’d like to participate in. If you were mad for the court, whether that be tennis or badminton, dust off your racket and engage in a little friendly competition with your friends. On the other hand, if there was always something you wanted to try but didn’t have the time for, like golf or baseball, now you do.

You can improve your muscular tone and strength level at any age, including in your 70s. Regular exercise can help you to stay active and independent while also making everyday activities like grocery shopping and playing with grandchildren easier to perform. Strength training can also help alleviate some of the common conditions that come with aging, such as weight gain, stiff joints and depression. Don’t let your age keep you from becoming fit.

Step 1

Consult with a physician before starting a new strength-training or exercise program. Your doctor can help you determine the proper amount of exercise for your health and fitness level. Tell your doctor about all medications that you are currently taking and about any medical conditions or injuries that you may have.

Step 2

Warm up at the beginning of every exercise session with at least five to 10 minutes of light cardio, such as walking, stationary cycling or using the elliptical trainer.

Step 3

Ease into your fitness program slowly; attempting too much too soon can cause injuries. Increase the intensity of your workouts every two to three weeks with gradual progressions of either heavier resistance levels or more complex exercises. For example, start with beginner-level exercises if you have been sedentary for a while, such as squats with a chair for support, wall pushups and toe raises. Increase the challenge after a couple of weeks by progressing to exercises like biceps curls, step-ups, overhead presses and hip abductions. Continue this pattern and regularly add new and challenging exercises to your fitness routine.

Step 4

Complete at least two full-body, strength-training sessions per week. Allow 48 hours rest between sessions to give your muscles a chance to recover. Mix up your resistance by incorporating free weights, machines, cable pulleys, resistance bands and medicine balls into your workouts. For example, you may use dumbbells for biceps curls during one workout and then possibly resistance bands the next time you train. Keep the effort constant; all forms of resistance should yield eight to 12 repetitions per set with proper form.

Step 5

Develop a proper breathing pattern; holding your breath while lifting weights can negatively affect aspects of your health, such as your blood pressure. Avoid jerking or dropping the weights; lift the weight for a count of three, hold the contraction at the top of the exercise for one count and then take another three counts to return to starting position.

Step 6

Stretch at the end of your training session for approximately 10 to 15 minutes; stretching helps to elongate the muscles and aid with recovery. Target every muscle group that you exercised that day. Hold each stretch for 20 to 30 seconds. Breathe in through your nose for a count of five while stretching and exhale through your mouth, also for a count of five.

TIPS AND WARNINGS
Seek the assistance of a personal trainer to determine the appropriate exercises for your fitness level, along with how to execute them with proper form.

Consult with a physician before starting a new strength-training or exercise program. Your doctor can help you determine the proper amount of exercise for your health and fitness level. Tell your doctor about all medications that you are currently taking and about any medical conditions or injuries that you may have.

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