How do you stay fit at any age?

How do you stay fit at any age?

Do you consider what type of exercising you should be doing as you age so that you age well? Or do you just keep doing the same thing?

I’m on my way towards 50, and during this 4th decade of my life from 45 plus I have been constantly reviewing my performance and wellbeing. I want the exercise I do to have a hugely beneficial effect on my body and my mental health and in this regard I now actually train for myself which I never did before.

Through my 20s I kept relatively fit doing aerobic and conditioning classes but I was young so I also had a social life which probably negated a lot of the good work I was doing.
During my 30s life just gets in the way – children, family, work, etc. so I took up teaching exercise to try to ensure that I actually got out there and moved.

The good thing about me is that I am inquisitive and want to continue learning therefore I read a lot about health and fitness to try to keep up with new ideas, new discussions on spinal health, wellbeing, how to achieve weight loss, etc. so this means that I try to teach exercise that is relevant and useful to the majority of people attending my classes.

I am also more conscious now about rehab and injury as I’m in my 40s – everyone has some sort of injury going on by now! But as I chatted today with a potential client, injury should not stop you moving, you learn to move more efficiently instead to get you back up and running as long as you really want to get back up and running.

So the question is how are you training for your age?

The 20s I’ll skim over as I think most of us are past this time now so what’s done is done. However if you have 20 year old children, relatives, this is the time in their lives when the energy should be there. You can cope with the plyometric (jumping) workouts, you can probably workout a couple of times a day and with the right nutrition, sleep, etc. you should be on top of the world. The danger is though that I am currently seeing a lot less 20 year olds doing exercise and what exercise they are doing is pretty poor and not enough for them at this time in their lives.

Roll over now to the 30s, a tricky decade I think as people settle down. Some have children, get mortgages, finances take over. You don’t get as much time for yourself if you have decided to have children and if you have a big mortgage, perhaps the gym cost is out of the question and as a consequence you aren’t doing anything at all. Well this definitely needs to change.
During our 30s the rebuild and repair switches are beginning to slow down already as we have already peaked from an ageing point of view. Hormones are going against us, both men and women, and if you have stopped working out, or never really did exercise, starting from scratch will be tough but it needs to be done.
I think in your 30s mix things up. Make sure you get strength and cardio and don’t be afraid to put them into the same workout. Make sure you also have time for destressing your mind and body through yoga or pilates sessions. Interval training is good but make sure you take note of the rest intervals as these are just as important as the working period.

Move over here comes the 40s!

For women a period of huge change. We have got older all of a sudden and we are now not looked at as as much fun as the 30 year olds at work and our body’s are resisting toning up and staying lean.

You could be going to exercise classes – great but is the type of activity bringing about change?
Forties is about maintenance really isn’t it. Trying to keep muscle, gain it if we can and certainly avoid losing it – so this is a big NO to dieting – it is evil and one of the prime problems for women causing them to lose muscle tone.

Muscle = a metabolism that works. No muscle – lower metabolism so if you eat too much you will gain weight.
It’s all very well going on a calorie reduced diet and you’re doing really well, losing weight, changing shape but if you are not building muscle tone or maintaining it when you no longer stick to the calorie reduced diet – look out weight gain, here it comes and much quicker and more easily than it used to when you were younger.

During the 40s we will get more tired through activity – fact. So why not consider that if you have a day that works your legs more, why not look to some upper body work the next day to give you recovery time. Gains are really all about your recovery. If you don’t recover the body doesn’t repair the muscle tears you achieved in your workout and you won’t wake up with a spring in your step.

If you wake up feeling tired, don’t go for a crazy hard workout. Listen, listen, listen to your body but don’t actually be lazy and not exercise because you can’t be bothered.
If I’ve done a more aerobic style workout, I will look at a strength workout the next day or if I am feeling tired I will focus on mobility exercises/pilates. I vary how I workout. I could do 4-5 day batches then take two days off with a really easy day as one of those days off. Or I might workout 3 days, day off, workout, day off – get the picture? I have a plan but I also listen to how my body responds because I have goals and therefore there will be periods of gains and periods when I haven’t got my nutrition, sleep, recovery right so I have to ease off and pay attention to those areas more.

The other thing that I would strongly recommend is warm up before exercising and this can even be before going for a long walk. Try a warm up for your ankles, use the prickly ball for stimulation and get your feet, knee and hips mobilised before you get going. Then after your walk, do the same thing to avoid stiffness.
Warm ups and cool downs are a necessity for health longevity.

The 50s are now upon us and according to the British Journal of Sports Science, raising your heart rate improves your mental health – thinking and memory.
In order to raise your heart rate the simplest way to do this and least detrimental to a 50 year old body is to do higher repetitions of exercise but at lighter weights, less intensity so that your heart rate will go up, but it won’t or shouldn’t spike.

If your joints hurt, this doesn’t mean stop moving. You need to start back into exercise gradually, working on your mobility before you start loading. You also need to work on your mindset that you really want to keep moving and that you have a goal of some kind, that is relevant to your lifestyle and will challenge you. The exercise you do now should enhance your life. Squats are a must – you have to be able to get in and out of chairs easily. Walking up steps, etc, is a necessary movement therefore exercise should incorporate the ability to lift the leg and step up. Lifting heavy bags from the floor is part of life, so consider lifting dumbbells off from the floor or from a chair if you cannot go as low. Being able to reach your arms overhead is another necessary move for wellbeing and being able to look after yourself so make sure you have some overhead work going on and also work to strengthen wrists and shoulders.
The time for jumping down is over really in your 50s (unless you are an athlete that has always been able to do this). You can jump up but I would definitely step down now and in most instances I keep away from too much plyometric activities. Small jumps are fine, you’re body does need loading but don’t get pulled along into a metafit class and find yourself trying to do tuck jumps as I think the knees will get a bit growly at this stage in your fitness life.

Exercise is invaluable for health and wellbeing but how you exercise – what you do, how long you do it for, your recovery, what you eat, sleep, etc is all vitally important to. Don’t guess what you need to do, get advice from the professionals if you are unsure.

Every decade should be fun, exciting and keep you strong, heading towards the goals you want to achieve with the biggest goal being able to move easily and well. You shouldn’t be getting out of breath easily just from walking up a few stairs or down the street fast. This is not an absolute consequence of getting older, it is the consequence of not looking after yourself and not ageing well.