When you’re in your 20’s, being fit is almost too easy. After all, your body is at its physical peak. At least according to Robert Kail and John Cavanaugh. Their book, “Human Development: A Life-Span View” details how sensory abilities peak in the early 20’s, muscle mass peaks anywhere between 20 and 30 years of age and heart rate and metabolism in early adulthood.
It’s all downhill from there, apparently.
After reaching the peak, physical strength will slowly decline as one goes through his remaining years. Vision will start to deteriorate by middle age. Heck, hearing actually starts declining as early as the late 20’s. And while muscle strength can be maintained for over 2 decades as long as you’re not suffering from disease or injury, once the middle age hits, the decline in muscular performance is around 5% every 10 years.
Skeletal bone mass is typically lost when women hit menopause. In men, it usually happens after 65. At retirement age for both sexes, resting metabolism will have dropped by 10% already, with another 10% dropping after that. Maximal heart rate slows down, too. You also lose 3 to 4 inches of flexibility over decades.
So, are humans just doomed to frailty then? Does that mean you can kiss staying in shape while you age goodbye?
Just because you’re getting on in age doesn’t mean you can’t have your body keep up with what your mind wants to do. There are ways to stay fit, whatever age you may be. At least 30-40% of functional strength is lost as one age. But this loss can be counteracted by engaging in strength training sessions, among other things.
How do you do it? It starts with tailoring your training to your age.
In Your 20’s
Remember, at this age, you are at your peak. That is not, however, a license to binge-drink and eat like there’s no tomorrow. This is also the time when you’re less likely to get enough sleep. Fortunately, the ability to recover is still high. And frequent, high-volume training could be enough to counteract your bad lifestyle choices.
So, your best option to staying fit? High-volume gym sessions to burn more energy. That means at least 3 full-body workouts every week. That will help burn calories while strengthening connective tissues and joints.
In Your 30’s
This is the decade when physical decline starts – flexibility, speed, recovery time, all these starts to go. But on the bright side, training intelligently during this period will help you tackle the later years better.
What do you need to focus on? Maximum strength workouts. Get upper-body sessions at the gym twice a week and 1 lower-body session. This will help with your recovery because the entire body isn’t being worked out all the time.
In Your 40’s
At this point, testosterone, libido and muscle building capacity drops significantly. But don’t despair just yet. Eating smart, along with regular exercise, can help you stay fit. A diet of lean protein, for example, will help men’s bodies stay in the right condition to produce testosterone. Foods rich in B vitamins, zinc and fiber are also needed. Consult with a nutritionist to create the best meal plan for your body type.
In Your 50’s and Beyond
If you’re in your 50’s and still in good shape, then bravo to you. And if you want to maintain that, then invest more time in flexibility training and non-impact aerobic activity. Yoga or even a simple daily stretching plan will work wonders in decreasing the chance of getting nagging injuries. Swimming, biking, and rowing are great for exercises for cardiovascular health. They burn calories and fat. At the same time, it will help build some muscle and strengthen bones, too. And the best part is they protect the joints from the unnecessary pounding.
If you’re out of shape, however, then it’s time to start a fitness routine. Get to stretching. Find a gentle exercise that you’re comfortable with. Check your diet and adjust it accordingly. If you don’t know where to start, consult with a health practitioner and get some suggestions.
Training as little as twice a week will help keep you in amazing shape.
Whatever your age may be, maintaining a fitness level is ideal. It will not just help you move without much effort, but it will also ensure you get to enjoy what life has to offer for longer.