It’s never too late or too early to get in shape.
Whether you’re training for a marathon or just want to maintain your strength, here’s how to stay fit and healthy at any age – and there are tips for mum here too!
In your 20s
I always say, “Staying in shape is easier than getting in shape”. So, set the foundation now with exercise and diet – it’s much easier to establish healthy habits in your 20s rather than trying to overhaul your fitness routine in your 50s.
When you’re young, you can recover quickly. So, why not spice it up and try different exercise routines and methods? Perhaps sign up for that half marathon, or take that martial arts class you’ve always wanted to do.
Your 20s is the ideal time to build muscle, sculpt your body and increase your metabolism through healthy eating habits. I recommend Tabata – four minutes of high-intensity training – it will build muscle while torching fat turning you into a lean, green fighting machine! All of my clients love it and see results.
The biggest mistake you can make in your 20s is feeling invincible and abusing your body. You may bounce back in your 20s, but abusive habits will catch up with you. My biggest advice is to start healthy habits NOW: drink more water, learn to meditate, don’t cheat your exercise or eating regime, get a good night’s sleep, plan and track your fitness goals, develop healthy social media habits and start stretching.
In your 30s
You’re peaking! So go hard, be consistent and set the foundation for healthy eating and building lean muscle to support you in old age, and then go home and put those feet up.
In your 30s, the speed of your metabolism can drop by 1-2% every decade. So, in our 30s, we can become obsessed with weight loss and a diet mindset can creep in: we focus on a dress size over a healthy lifestyle. The ‘all or nothing’ attitude can see us running 10km every day for two weeks, then falling completely off the wagon and binge-eating. This is not a healthy or sustainable approach to living and it makes life decidedly unfun.
You need to switch your mindset from weight loss to wellness – especially as in our 30s we may be thinking about having kids. So, keeping your mind and body as healthy as possible for pregnancy is crucial. Eat lean, keep up your cardio with dynamic HIIT workouts, and incorporate resistance training using a mix of body weight exercises and weights.
If your journey has taken you down the children path, it’s important to look after your pregnant body with regular exercise and to rebuild it afterwards with pilates and fitness so your body is strong going into your 40s.
Recovery and “me time” is as just important as diet and exercise – so start meditating. In fact, meditation has been proven to be more effective than medication. A healthy and happy mind equals a healthy and happy body.
In your 40s
I don’t want to depress you (sorry, ladies) but this is the decade of the triple whammy: gravity, hormones, and yet more slowing of metabolism as lean muscle mass continues to decrease and body fat increases. So this is one of the most important decades for training – you need to stay active, eat well and laugh often.
Women lose up to 3kg of muscles every decade from their 40s onwards. This is dangerous for your metabolism and body shape. The more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism and the leaner you will look. This is because muscle is more compact than fat and burns more calories at rest. We like it lean and NOT mean!
Switching to concentrating on resistance training will keep that precious muscle and help speed up that metabolism. Your time of endurance cardio is over; it’ll put too much pressure on your joints. Mix up short cardio intervals with your weights program: push-ups, squats, thrusters with a sprint or two-minutes on the bike. I’d suggest finding a fitness plan with a great toning and resistance program (tiffxo.com hint hint!). Also, make sure you’re enjoying your program. It’s so important to carve out some time for you amongst work and family. You need to be exercising in a deeply satisfying way and making sure you have a healthy life balance.
In your 50s and 60s
Hormones. Welcome! Is it hot in here or is it just me? As you go through menopause, your estrogen production declines, accelerating bone loss. This is why you can expect up to a 30% decline in bone mass in your 50s if you skip exercise – setting you up for all kinds of problems. Lack of estrogen has also been linked to weight gain, especially around the belly.
To combat hormonal weight gain, focus on a lean diet, add lots of protein to protect your muscle mass and stick to resistance toning exercise. If your cardio has lapsed, don’t go full ball with HIIT training or interval training; instead, embrace walking.
Walking is a fantastic fat burn. And although you may be tempted to go running, it can increase your risk of injuries, stress on the body and stimulate your appetite. Brisk walking for 45 minutes alone mobilises the body to dip into fat reserves and burn stored fat. Drag a girlfriend along and make it a social as well as a fit event.
Lastly but not least, it’s so important we stretch. Stretching builds muscle strength just like resistance training. So, hit the mat to stop weight gain and build muscle – it’ll help you stay strong and reduce your chances of injury.