We all have to accept that we cannot stop the aging process but numerous research studies show that the most effective ways to minimize the effects of aging is through consistent exercise and living a healthy life. The information that follows are some general considerations for exercise, healthy behaviors and nutrition for each decade of the adult lifespan and show that healthy behaviors can slow down and in some cases, reverse the effects of aging.
EXERCISE IN YOUR 40’s – In your 40’s most people don’t feel “older’ but begin to notice that it does seem to take a little longer for their bodies to fully recover for workouts or high intensity activities. Sleep starts to become more important and you begin to notice that if you have been eating healthy and stray a few days you “feel” it; lack of energy and just not feeling well.
- If finding time to workout is a challenge, consider ways to add small bouts of exercise to your daily routine – biking to work, taking the stairs, using a standing desk, taking a walk during lunch, parking farther away, etc. These little things will provide some additional activity and help you burn a couple hundred calories a day.
- If you have been consistent in your exercise – GOOD JOB! Remember that if you follow the same routine for too long, your body will adapt so you will need to mix it up. Keep your body guessing.
- Try to add at least one high-intensity exercise like a group-cycling, sports-conditioning or kettlebell class to your routine. High-intensity exercise can help promote muscle-building hormones while increasing caloric expenditure, both of which are important at this age.
- This is the age when you really start feeling the effects of unhealthy food choices. Focus on healthy and smart nutrition choices and pay attention to proportions.
- Lack of sleep can begin to take its toll. Look at your sleep habits and make a point to try and get more restful sleep. Remove light sources like TV’s; cell phones or computers.
EXERCISING IN YOUR 50’s – Speaking from personal experience I can say that everything seems to change at 50 – appetite, body, sleep, core temperature – it all changes. Regular exercise is ESSENTIAL for maintaining good health. Conditions like high cholesterol, heart disease or arthritis can begin to make themselves known in your 50’s. If you experience any chronic medical conditions, make sure to work with your healthcare provider to identify the most appropriate types of exercise for your needs. Physical therapists are great in helping resolve muscle or joint issues that arise. When released from physical therapy a good personal trainer can keep you on the road to maintaining a healthy, strong body.
- Like in previous decades, keep mixing up your exercise routine not only to keep your muscles working differently but to keep your brain engaged as well. Keep 2 high-intensity workouts a week because exercise that elevates levels of growth hormone can also elevate levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This is the neurotransmitter responsible for producing new brain cells and improving cognitive function.
- Hopefully, your 50s is also when you will have additional free time and disposable income to take vacations and visit parts of the world you’ve always wanted to experience. We have helped clients in this age bracket train for vacations like walking the El Camino, hiking to Machu Picchu, cycling across Newfoundland and kayaking in the Northwest Territories. If you have the luxury to enjoy these options, then picking active vacations can be one way to help keep you engaged and motivated in your exercise program. Even if you can’t afford exotic destinations we live in the perfect place to begin hiking or cycling. Activities are abundant and available for all ages and fitness levels.
- Avoid foods that can elevate your cholesterol or affect any medications you may be taking. Take a few cooking lessons to learn ways to keep your meals healthy and fresh.
- We cannot stress enough how important sleep is, especially after exercise. In this decade, you may experience sleep disruptions like waking up in the night or not being able to get to sleep. If this becomes a consistent problem, make sure to mention this to your doctor.
EXERCISING IN YOUR 60’s – When you’re younger 60 seems old; but once I hit 50, I quickly realized that 60 was the new 40 and 60, wasn’t old at all. Many people retire in their 60’s thereby having more time to enjoy life. If you enjoy your work however, keep working – just make time to do the things you love and bring joy to your world.
- It’s more important than ever to exercise almost every day of the week. You can continue to do high-intensity workouts, but limit them to two days or less a week for optimal recovery. Continue strength training and add some balance exercises into your routine.
- Experiment with new types of workouts or activities to give your body and brain new learning opportunities.
- Just like young adults, taking group classes is a great way to combine physical activity with social time. If you’re recently retired, it can be an effective way to make new friends. Aquatic fitness classes, a healthy choice at any age, are a good option for those with arthritis.
- If there are any activities you wanted to learn in your 50’s and didn’t – now is the time!
- Have healthy snacks around the house so you don’t fill up on the sugary or unhealthy stuff.
- Sleep is always important but essential for maintaining optimal health. Don’t forget to have a good mattress to help improve your sleep.
EXERCISING IN YOUR 70’s – I am inspired by many of our members who are in their 70’s. It’s like they are all 50. They look young and move better than many of our younger members. I’m a big believer that it’s because fitness has been an essential part of their lives for years. They have been active and taken care of themselves and it shows. It’s been a valuable lesson to learn and utter joy to watch and learn from them.
- Keep participating in your favorite activities, but listen to your body and rest when you need to.
- It’s never too late to start, staying fit and strong now can help you maintain your functional independence longer and keep you from having to rely on assisted living.
- Resistance training is great for you and can help build lean muscle mass and improve your functional strength for all the activities of your daily life.
- If you feel the effects of arthritis, don’t let it stop you from cardio respiratory exercise, but do look for types that can reduce impact on your joints like water aerobics.
- Participate in activities that keep you moving in all directions – yoga, Tai Chi, Pilates, dance, NIA, etc. These are all important in helping you maintain balance and reducing the risk of orthopedic injury.
- Often your metabolism starts to slow down, reduce your caloric intake and focus on healthy food.
- Mention any sleep disruptions to your doctor. Napping is also especially helpful and can give you energy to participate in your favorite activities.
EXERCISING IN YOUR 80’s – Congratulations! Keep participating in your favorite activities; just be smart and take care of your body. Get appropriate rest.
- Resistance training becomes extremely important because it can help you maintain your strength, allowing you to remain functionally independent.
- If you are considering relocating to a retirement community, look for one with a robust schedule of recreational activities so you have plenty of options for exercise.
- You are never too old to learn new things, so consider going back to school. Seek out new activities – learning new movement skills helps your brain as well as your body.
- Social interactions and learning are both great ways to reduce the risk of developing cognitive diseases like dementia or Alzheimer’s.
- Seek and follow the advice of your doctor for the best options to keep you healthy. Avoid excessive drinking and dense, low-nutrition foods.
- Make sure to let your doctor know of any disruptions in your sleep patterns.
EXERCISING IN YOUR 90’s – An even bigger Congratulations if you’re here. Keep doing whatever you’ve been doing because it’s working. We have several members in the 90’s and what an inspiration they are. I look at these women and want to be just like them should I reach 90. They are my heroines!
Whatever physical activity you can do, do it as often as possible. If you’re not already doing strength training, ask your medical providers if they can recommend any strength-training programs specifically for your age group because you can add muscle mass at any age. If you want to enjoy an active life well into your 90s, no matter what happens NEVER STOP EXERCISING. Even if you can only do a few minutes at a time, regular exercise and physical activity can provide health benefits in every decade. If you exercise for no other reason, do it to take control of the aging process so that you can enjoy all of your favorite activities in all stages of your life.
information for this article was written by Pete McCall, MS, CSCS, ACE Health and Fitness Expert