It's vital to stay fit, as the benefits of exercise are countless. It promotes longevity, boosts cognitive function, and supports a vigorous immune system and overall wellness. Combined with a healthy diet, a lifelong commitment to exercise is one of the surest ways to stay healthy as you get older.
While some forms of exercise are doable at any age, modifications based on life stage are important. Your needs and abilities change over time, and while a good exercise regimen will benefit you no matter when you start, like any investment, the sooner the better. Here are some tips in order to stay fit at any age.
Exercise for Children and Teens
Childhood is the perfect time to encourage play and an active lifestyle, building the foundation for good lifelong habits. Kids who are physically active have stronger muscles and bones, leaner bodies, decreased risk of type 2 diabetes and other chronic conditions, and better confidence and mental health. Young children and teens have a variety of fitness options available to them, such as dance, swimming, martial arts, school sports, and outdoor games. Fitness guidelines for children and teens recommend:
Stay Fit During Your 20s
This is the perfect time to establish a daily fitness and nutrition routine, especially post-college. If you have good fitness habits in place, continue with those sports and activities you already love doing. This is the decade to emphasize cardiovascular fitness, which supports your long-term health as you get older. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate cardio exercise five days per week, or 25 minutes of intense cardio three days per week.
Stay Fit During Your 30s
This is the decade to emphasize core strength, especially if you plan to get pregnant, and add interval training to your cardio routine to counteract a slowing metabolism. This is also the time to shore up and maintain your muscle mass, as most people lose muscle as they age. Weight training, weight-bearing yoga postures, Pilates, and anything that works to strengthen and build your muscles is a must.
Stay Fit During Your 40s
If you are already in great shape, this is an excellent time to increase your activity and take your fitness up a notch. The more exercise the better — this will protect your muscle mass, as well as your telomeres, which are stretches of DNA that promote longevity and cellular health. Alternate between moderate and vigorous cardiovascular exercise, and continue weight training. Bike, take long, brisk walks, hike, or take a fun new fitness class. The key is to keep moving, and stay active. If you are new to the fitness game, jump in - your body will respond beautifully, and you will feel and look better than ever.
Stay Fit During Your 50s
Lowered estrogen and fluctuating hormone levels due to menopause can lead to mood dysregulation and potential bone loss. Exercise is excellent for stabilizing moods, and weight-bearing exercises are vital to maintaining muscle and bone mass. Aim for 30 minutes of daily weight-bearing exercise, such as yoga, dancing, tennis, jogging, or weight training. This is also the decade to focus on protecting leg and lower body strength. Research shows a connection between leg strength and brain health as we age. The mechanism isn’t fully understood, but one theory posits that brain-stimulating neurochemicals are released when muscles are worked, and leg muscles are some of the largest in the body. Regardless, physical exercise that improves brain health is doubly important to pursue.
Stay Fit During Your 60s and Beyond
The healthier and more fit you’ve been up to this point, the better. Make adjustments as your body requires — don’t ignore illness, pains, or signs of distress. But there is no need to slow down if you still feel good. Keep moving and stay active. The better shape you're in, the greater your vitality as you age. While weight gain is common after menopause, it's still possible to drop extra pounds and trim your belly at this life stage. It's also important to sustain excellent cardiovascular health, and to reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes and various cancers. Light aerobic activity, regular brisk walks, and gardening are all great options to stay fit. Strength training continues to be important in these years, so try to do a full body workout with medium weights for about 40 minutes twice a week in addition to cardio activities.