Fit at Any Age
There's no doubt that exercise can counter the effects of ageing on the body. Throughout February we're going to be guiding you through ways of getting and staying fit as you move through the decades.
In Your 20s
In your 20s it's party, party, party - hangover, what hangover,? I'm right up for that HIIT session! This is the decade when you're most likely be in your peak physical condition, reaction times are quicker, you can build muscle faster and your recovery is almost certainly quicker. You're musculoskeletal strength is developing and bone density peaks in your 20s/30s. For this reason, it's good to participate in weight bearing activity like running, football or netball along with strength training such as kettles. Taking part in classes or team sports gives you that sense of belonging which helps mental health too. However, it's important to note that over exercise is most common during this decade and having rest days does you the world of good.
In Your 30s
What do workouts and nights out in your 30s have in common? They both take longer to recover from. Probably for two reasons, one your muscles take longer to repair/regenerate and many people in their 30s have broken sleep with a young family at home. Rest days are just as important and active recovery rest days can benefit where you go for a leisurely walk. I know it sounds early, but it's in this decade that muscle strength and bone density begin to decline. This is why it's important to carry out aerobic forms of exercise but include plenty of strength training in your weekly workouts too.
In Your 40s
Ever heard of the somatopause? This is the gradual decline of somatotropin otherwise known as the growth hormone (GH) which usually begins in your 40s. GH is responsible for growth, cell reproduction/regeneration and the breakdown/storage of fat. Decreased muscle mass, increased fat and reduced energy commonly occur in this decade. Women will start to see a fall in oestrogen and progesterone levels which contribute to changes in body composition. Fat storage tends to move from hips and thighs to the abdomen. The fat carried in the abdomen is referred to as visceral fat and contributes to your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, strokes and breast cancer. As muscle burns more calories than fat, the decrease in muscle mass leads to weight gain. Increasing lean muscle mass is recommended in your 40s, taking part in strength training activities and eating plenty of lean protein.
In Your 50s
Not since puberty or pregnancy has your body undergone such massive changes and hormone upheaval. The average age for women in the UK to start menopause is 51, this means your ovaries stop producing oestrogen and progesterone and ovulation will be erratic until periods finally stop. Oestrogen is crucial for bone health and for protecting your heart. Up until menopause, men are more at risk of heart disease but after the menopause, the risk is equal for both sexes. It's important in your 50s to take part in regular cardiovascular exercise that gets your blood pumping to keep a healthy heart. It's also worth remembering that the pelvic floor muscles deteriorate with age and doing regular core exercises to strengthen those muscles will help keep the strong.
In Your 60s
As you age the synovial fluid in your joints decreases and cartilage becomes thinner: you may be aware of degenerative aches and pains in your joints. Ligaments also lose their elasticity and flexibility is limited. It's really important at any age to regularly stretch but especially in your 60s and beyond. Exercise stimulates the production of synovial fluid, think of it as adding engine oil to your car and it helps to transport vital nutrients from your blood around the body. Taking part in strength training exercises will build strong muscles and they in turn will take care of the joints.
In Your 70s
The degenerative effect age can have on the brain can also have an effect on the body via the slowing of the brain to muscle connection. The neuro pathways slow down as we age but challenging the body with different activities can keep these pathways flowing. There's evidence to suggest exercises like dancing, yoga and HIIT, where the brain has to think about what the body is doing, help to stimulate the nervous system. Don't forget to include some stret
ch and toning exercises in your weekly routine too.