Fitness at Every Age
Many things about the body change with age, and our nutrition and exercise needs are no exception. Certain types of food and exercise can optimize health from decade to decade, so a little know-how may help you avoid illness and injury. Use these tips to help stay fit at any age.
Your 20-something years are all about establishing good habits. As grown-up responsibilities begin to set in, the stress of joining the workforce, paying bills and possibly even getting married can take up a lot of time and attention. Make your health and fitness a priority by eating less takeout, getting enough fruits and veggies, and setting up a consistent exercise regimen.
The sad truth is that your metabolism begins to slow down when you’re in your 30s. Eating consistent meals and choosing healthy, balanced snacks like vegetables and hummus can help keep energy levels high and prevent overeating. It’s also a great time to increase cardiovascular exercise to help promote heart health. Kara Lydon, registered dietitian, yoga teacher and author of the Nourish Your Namaste e-book recommends taking your yoga practice to the next level. She says: “People in their 30s should take advantage of their strength and stamina to learn more challenging poses like inversions, arm balances and back bends ... it's also important to adopt a restorative yoga practice during this decade. Restorative yoga (supported poses held for long periods of time) will help the practitioner to feel more grounded, calm and relaxed amidst a number of life transitions.”
In your 40s think about what you can do to avoid injuries. Ken Kosior, a certified athletic trainer, physical therapist and assistant clinical professor at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Ct., advises people to make the 40s all about “posture, posture, posture.” Practicing good posture and training the muscles that help keep your spine in check can help prevent injuries. Furthermore, getting plenty of calcium and vitamin D during these years is especially important, to help maintain strong muscles and bones.
During these years, protein needs increase to help preserve muscle tissue. Choosing protein-rich lean meats, nuts, low-fat dairy and legumes for meals and snacks can help ensure that your protein needs are being met. Kosior points out that the goal during this decade is “joint preservation” and keeping knees and hips working their best. Drop the higher-impact cardio workouts and “move to biking, swimming and walking.”
Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc. , which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.