Timeless Beauty: Staying Fit And Fabulous For A Lifetime
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By Mia Bolaris-Forget
While it doesn’t seem like that long ago, my 20s are definitely a decade of the past. But, as time goes on I notice that there are many differences between my generation and the one slowly or quickly but surely approaching their 30s. We were a generation where computers and technology were something straight out of the Jetsons and something we were excitedly experiencing and realizing as we exited University and entered “the real world”. Yet, today’s 20-somethings were born into an era of gadgets, gadgets and gizmos, and most of their lifestyle and work life may be much more sedentary than it was for many of us. In fact, more and more young adults are experiencing health concerns many of us never even though of “back in the day”. And, whether your in your 20s, 30s or beyond, experts assert that the key to good health, especially in this desk-dominated world of 9-5 at the computer, is exercise, but more importantly the right exercise for your age.
The “Transcendental” 20-somethings:
From college to career and everything in between, for many, this is a decade of new experiences, finding yourself and pushing you limits. Good thing your body is still pretty strong and resilient. But, the “abuse” will catch up to you, and perhaps sooner than you think, if you don’t treat yourself and your body well. Remember, especially for women, metabolism may start to show signs of slowing as soon as your early 20s and, according to experts, may noticeably decline by your mid to late 20s due to a more sedentary lifestyle as you transition from a lifestyle of youthful activity and “partying” to one of responsibility, relationships and a career. And, it’s likely though that you may still be, due to lack of finances, time, both, as well as trying to hold on to the “good ole days” be punishing it will late nights, and poor dietary habits, including indulging in alcohol and fast foods. For many, experts suggest this is also the era of anxiety, a frantic, hectic pace, fad diets, and a search for personal perfection, including self-“hatred” when you fail to meet or achieve your goals.
And, according to the pros, the key to “success” during these years is “acceptance”. Accept yourself and work with you’ve got and where you are heading. And, for the 20-something crowd that means 30 minutes of weight training followed by 30 minutes of cardio 3x each week in addition to 45 to60 minutes of cardio 3x a week as well. But, don’t forget to give yourself one day of rest.
Experts stress that while many 20-somethings still have the stamina for excessive cardio and crunches, they should mix it up and include weight training since that is what tones muscles and builds bone density which is essential for staying active later on in life and preventing osteoporosis.
They recommend working with weights that are “heavy” enough to be challenging and fatigue your muscles.
The Thriving 30-something crowd:
By the time you hit your 30s, if your like most of us, you’ve comfortable settled into a career and way of life that is “comfortable” but that doesn’t allow for as much activity or for that extra weight to come off as easily. That’s because as early as after age 20, you basal metabolism decreases by about 1 to 2 percent every decade, which means you lose lean muscle and gain body fat. In fact, after age 20, you don’t need as many calories to sustain yourself. Add into the equation the probability that you are no longer burning off all those calories you consume by sweating them out at the clubs all night and all weekend long, and you may begin to see what are the beginnings of some significant physical differences. And, by this stage in the game, intentional exercise, (like we said, you’re likely no longer clubbing it for hours at a time all weekend long), is not only recommended, but it’s essential.
Experts recommend one hour of circuit training (cardio and resistance) 4x a week and at least one day of high intensity cardio for about 45 to 60 minutes with one day of rest.
They add that if you incorporate healthy practices, the changes may be slight to negligible during this decade, but if you fall short, the differences will be obviously apparent, especially if you have a sedentary career.
Plus, keeping in shape during this decade means working harder and that means switching up your routine to keep your body challenged. And, many professionals favor routines that involve standing exercises, which fight our natural tendency to “slump”.
Also, post pregnancy programs are especially crucial during this decade and can be invaluable to helping you get back the body you had before baby.
The Fun and Fiesty 40-somethings:
Despite the “flawless” figures of Demi Moor, Halle Berry, Madonna and the likes, for most, this decade means a rude awakening as your body fights gravity, hormones, and a metabolism that continues to slow down, leading to less lean muscle mass and more body fat. Even ladies who don’t easily gain weight may see some “expansion”. And, the areas of most concern are the torso, below the bra, through the tricep area, on the back and in the belly region. And, it’s not necessarily anything you are doing or doing wrong, it’s merely that your body composition is changing.
Experts suggest keeping in tip-top shape with one hour of weight training 3 days a week if you focus on your whole body at one or 4 days of half an hour work outs if you focus on different body parts each day. In addition, they recommend 45 minutes of cardio 5 days a week but with less intensity than in your 20s and 30s.
However, they emphasize that the weight training is the most crucial for keeping weight gain and expansion at bay. In fact, to ensure you’re doing it right, experts suggest getting a trainer, at least to get started or taking a class or two that will challenge you.
Consider Pilates for body parts that require extra attention and do “spot training” for other areas that need help such as arms, back, etc. And, they suggest finding activities that are mentally as well as physically enriching and that are also enjoyable.
The fabulous 50-somethings:
Even if you’re not in your 50s yet, mom just may be, and it’s just as important that she stay physically fit too. According to experts, once in the 50-zone, you may feel like your metabolism just isn’t what it use to be, and you’re right. In fact, most see ladies seem to gain, on average, 12 pounds within the first 8 years after menopause. In addition, loss of muscle mass becomes more apparent and lack of tone starts to show. In fact, it can really change your posture.
In fact, many may see a classic shoulder slump, especially from years of being hunched over a desk or computer. And, this “elderly” stance alone will add years to your age.
Experts suggest 4 to 6 cardio sessions each week about 20 to 40 minutes each. And, they note that while you shouldn’t overstress yourself, you should keep it challenging. /add to that an hour of weight training twice 8 to 12 repetitions of each exercise, or 15 to 20 using lighter weights and always stretch afterwards.
The key here they say is the strength training and the professional guidance if you’re a novice or beginner. In fact, studies show that women in their 70s have doubles their strength in just nine weeks. And, the best part is that you can do these exercises at home.
Other recommendations include yoga, tai chi, dance, and the Bosu ball, which is ideal for building balance.
The sensational 60-somethings and beyond:
Mom and dad may already be in this phase of life, and if we are “lucky” we’ll be there too. But, the Golden years don’t mean you have to turn into a Golden Oldie, but rather make it a golden opportunity to stay sexy and fit well into your 60s and beyond.
For most this era may mean the onset of some interesting conditions such as arthritis, bad knees, and other common ailments. And, these newfound aches and pains may make exercise more challenging and difficult. But, according to researchers that doesn’t mean giving up your fitness regimen.
In fact, they suggest an age-defying program that included 3 days of challenging but non-stressful or exhausting cardio and 3 days of weight training using lighter weights and slower, more controlled movements alone with some strategic stretching.
They recommend pool activities, riding a stationary bike, long walks, etc. And, they add that if you don’t practice a healthy fitness routine now including stretching, your muscles will have tensed up by the time you reach your 80s. And, they add that while you may have to continue modifying your routine with the passing years, getting some physical fitness into your daily routine is essential for every and any age.
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