Exercise Tips For Every Age

09/14/2011 08:26 am ET | Updated Nov 12, 2011

Exercising under the best of circumstances is hard enough. Just the regular interruptions of everyday life can keep you home, late at the office, or driving your kids around. Compound these daily obstacles with the pitfalls of aging, and getting or staying in shape can become an uphill climb.

Don't let it be!

Here is some guidance for what to expect over time:

  • In your 20s, reach your peak
  • In your 30s, enjoy the streaks
  • In your 40s, ignore the creaks
  • In your 50s, new goals seek
  • In your 60s, don't be weak

So when do we really notice the effects that aging has on our exercise routines? If we could hold on to our 20s, no one would have to read this article. In your 20s, your taken-for-granted body is running at its peak in every way. From a fired up metabolism to forgiving flexibility, your body is a well-oiled machine. This is a time to push!

When you hit your mid-30s, there are subtle but proven changes in how your body reacts to exercise. Studies have shown that your natural fitness start to decrease around age 35. These pitfalls include a slower metabolic rate by up to five percent, slower recovery times, and a slight loss in flexibility. The good news? You're still so young, and time is on your side. There's
plenty of opportunity to get in shape and appropriately balance your workouts for future damage control. Instead of doing excessive cardio (which we all tend to think wards off weight gain and burns the most calories), incorporate 30 minutes of weights and resistance, followed by 20 to 45 minutes of cardio. We do this in every at our Flywheel indoor cycling classes by injecting an arms routine in the middle of each ride. This combination will maintain muscle mass and increase overall strength -- both weapons in the fight against aging.

In your 40s, it is all too common to start working out for the first time because you've had a rude wake-up call by a more cavalier (and maybe more indulgent life in your 20s and 30s). Your clothes may be tighter and you might be asking yourself, "Where did those 20 pounds come from?" It's never too late to start exercising, and it's very important at any age to make exercise a part of your life. And in your 40s, exercise is critical to thwarting osteoporosis and the inevitable bone loss that many women experience as we age. Focus on weight-bearing exercises such as running, walking and weights. But don't just jump into a rigorous routine -- realize that your body (albeit still young) has to transition slowly. For those who head into their 40s with an established exercise routine, be thoughtful about pushing toward new personal bests. It may still be possible, but it could require more work and carry more risk of injury.

In your 50s, it is extremely important to keep up the workouts. If you lapse, it's much harder to get back into a routine. During these years, I find that setting attainable goals helps you stay focused. Work on a particular body part you may have taken for granted over time (and one that shows the effects of aging). Legs can look remarkably toned and young if you've clocked the hours biking, running or power walking; upper arms, on the other hand, may require more attention now.

And in your 60s and beyond, do whatever your body allows you to do to keep fit. Keep an open dialogue with your doctors and fitness instructors about what's right for you. I don't go a day without seeing people in this age category show up in my indoor cycling classes at Flywheel. And they don't just come for the ride...they show up some of the younger riders as well!

There is no question that as we get older we face many challenges in terms of the changes that occur in our bodies. Personally, I can certainly attest to some unwanted but unavoidable changes. I can honestly say that it took me years to learn what worked for my body -- how much is too much, too little, too intense, and not intense enough. The good news is that through trial and error, we figure it out, we look and feel better. I especially enjoy looking back at pictures of myself over the years, and despite the battle scars of aging, I am happy to report that I'm better for it -- I feel armed with self-confidence and wisdom. In fact, I am in better shape now than I ever have been!

The bottom line: Exercise is the best revenge against time.