Let’s face it: lots of things change as we get older, and our exercise needs are one of them. The physical activities you engaged in during your adolescence and early 20s are likely quite different than those you participate in during later decades. Unless you are someone who religiously maintained an exercise regimen over several decades, your physical abilities and needs have changed. Therefore it’s a good idea to acknowledge and recognize those changes so you can incorporate the most appropriate physical activities into your life for optimal health and safety.
needs change: 20s to 40s
In your 20s, you’re at your physical peak, logging in your
best reactions times and use of oxygen. These are the years to build lean
muscle mass and bone density, which you should then work to retain in later
In your 30s, you likely are concentrating on your career and
building a family, and exercise may begin to slip. That’s when it’s important
to maintain your cardiovascular fitness and strength, especially if you are
working at a sedentary job. High-intensity interval training is a good choice
because it maximizes your time and results.
Then come the 40s, when many men begin to put on extra
weight. That’s when the focus should be on burning more calories to help avoid
an accumulation of detrimental abdominal fat as well as prevent the loss of
muscle mass that typically occurs at a rate of about 3 to 8 percent per decade.
The recommended way to accomplish these goals is to engage
in resistance exercise, such as weight training or use of kettlebells. You may
also want to adopt a running program, if approved by your doctor. To help
strengthen your core and protect against back pain, Pilates can be beneficial.
needs change: 50s and beyond
Did you wake up one day around 50 and discover more aches and pains? The fifth decade is often when chronic health issues can begin to creep into your life and the risk of certain diseases, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes, can become prevalent.
To maintain waning muscle mass, it’s important to do
strength training twice a week. Intersperse with weight-bearing exercise, such
as walking, jumping rope, jogging, or dancing. It’s also time to pay attention
to balance issues, and tai chi and yoga can be helpful for this concern.
As the 60s roll around, it’s common for individuals to have
more chronic conditions and a higher risk for cancer. There is also a tendency
to slack off on exercise. Don’t! It’s essential to maintain a regular physical
activity routine that incorporates some weight training, cardiovascular
fitness, and balance to help ward off serious health conditions.
Now can be the time to introduce water aerobics or swimming,
which can be easier on your joints. Water activities are also great ways to
develop strength. Dancing is also recommended for balance, cardio, and as a
Too many people tend to become sedentary in their 70s and
beyond, yet this is a critical time for engaging in activities that help
prevent falls, improve balance, and support cognitive function. Find new ways
to stay physically active: walk with friends, join a fitness club for older
adults, take dance lessons, and get advice from a physical therapist if you
have a chronic health issue that limits your ability to stay active.
needs change and so do nutritional needs
To stay physically active, you also need to address your nutritional needs, which also change as you age. These changes vary from person to person, but generally people in their 60s and beyond have less stomach acid (which affects nutrient absorption) and a greater need for some nutrients. Therefore, if these issues are not addressed, maintaining a healthy activity level may not be possible.
For example, changes associated with aging can make people
likely to be deficient in vitamin D, calcium, vitamin B12, magnesium, iron, and
other nutrients. A physician can check nutrients levels and then deficiencies
can be addressed by boosting dietary intakes and/or use of supplements. Failing
to do so will be detrimental for overall health on several levels.
Regardless of your age, it’s essential to stay physically
active. In addition to following an exercise regimen that includes strength
training, cardiovascular work, flexibility, and balance, you should incorporate
more movement into your daily life. Take the stairs more often, get together with
friends or coworkers and walk, join a hiking club or bowling team, or do
volunteer work that involves physical activity. Keep moving throughout your
life, regardless of your age!