You can age quickly or you can age slowly.
You might be able to stop ageing altogether, but that might involve black holes and other wonders of physics.
But you can never age backwards.
You need the right strategy for your age
If we can’t avoid ageing, we might as well do it well, right?
The main goal with ageing well and staying strong is not to lose muscle and bone mass.
That’s easy. The difficult part is doing this while managing your declining hormones – regardless of whether you’re male or female.
Here’s some ideas……..
In your 30s
I don’t know about you, but I got really busy in my 30s.
I was studying, holding down a job, and working out how to make life easier.
You might also be raising a family, and everything that goes with that as well.
The good news is that in your 30s you’re still close to your peak in terms of physical performance.
But the truth is this will not last forever, and if you start to accept the inevitable in a positive way, you’ve got a much better chance of hanging onto the fitness and strength progress you’ve made up to now.
Here’s what I learned from my 30s:
- it’s always better to go for quality rather than quantity in your training if you’re time poor. For example, aim for intense but short cardio sessions, and aim to do lifting that uses your largest muscle groups – deadlifts and squats can become your ‘go to’ training.
- do everything you can to stay in a healthy weight range to set you up for later success.
- you might need to pick up your cardio and keep your heart pumping – aim for 30 to 40 minutes 4 to 5 times a week.
- pay a bit more attention to your diet than you might have in the past. Be sure to keep your protein intake up to fend off muscle loss if you’re inactive. Keep a focus on calcium because the state of your bones in your mid-30s is what you have for life.
- start weight training if you haven’t before. If you’re already training, keep it up. If you’re not, set up the fitness habits that will keep you strong for the rest of your life.
In your 40s
If you’ve got the right focus, your 40s can be the best years of your life in terms of activity, strength and fitness.
This can be the time that you stand out from the crowd.
Why? Well to some degree up to now everyone can be relatively the same with minimal effort in terms of fitness and strength. But in your 40s your training pays off. As people age around you, you can still be awesome.
In my 40s I learned that:
- if you are weight training, you need to kick it up by adding more weight. Do one hour sessions three times a week.
- be aware your overhead strength is one of the first things to go if you don’t train. So get some overhead presses in to your routine, but be careful of your shoulders.
- if you’re not weight training, you will start to lose muscle mass and bone density. Full stop.
- keep up the cardio and don’t cut the calories. This will counteract your slowing metabolism and fend off the weight gain experienced by people who remain inactive.
In your 50s
This can be the toughest time when you realise the high impact and short interval cardio activity you love makes your ankles, knees and hips ache the next day.
You might start thinking about the best movements to keep you from injury. This is quite sensible.
You start working out how to adapt your training routine, rather than give it up. Get help if you need it.
If you’re working long hours, you might start thinking twice about whether you’ll make it to the gym.
So far the 50s have shown me that:
- if you’re just starting out, take it easy. But do something daily.
- you can expect a 30% decrease in bone mass if you don’t exercise, which will set you up nicely for osteoporosis.
- your testosterone and oestrogen levels will drop.
- loss of muscle mass really starts to show if you are not training.
- it’s critical to keep up the walking/running, strength training and stretching. This will fend of balance issues and falls in the next two decades.
- you won’t process protein as well as you have in the past, so increase your level of consumption.
Start listening to your body if you haven’t before. Don’t let aches and pains be your excuse to give up training.
I’m sure some readers will provide some gentle yet firm advice that you can still be fit in your 60s and beyond, and that this blog post is therefore only half complete.
Hang around for nine more years, and I’ll give you some first hand advice then.
If you’ve got experience with being fit in your 60s and beyond, I’d love to hear from you.
What I can tell you now is that every decade will bring change.
Expect this. Embrace this. Enjoy this.
You can stay the way you are, or you can be a better version of yourself.
The better version of you can be strong at any age.
How awesome would that be? A million times awesome, of course.