CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Whether in your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s or beyond, good health is something we all want. Those who are young have a focus on performance and their rewards come in the form of trophies, records and/or fame--not to mention an enviable physique. More mature health seekers have learned to realign their goals through the years; their rewards are lower blood pressure, reduced joint pain and a good night's sleep.
Being physical as we age should be everyone's objective; however, accomplishing that goal is dependent upon the ability to adapt and to adjust as we go to our body's needs, capabilities and limitations. This explains how some test their physical limits while others simply want to pass their physical tests.
Key points to consider in each decade
20s -- You want to be stronger and faster
This is your time to leave it all on the field. Work out every day if you want. Your body won't punish you. Pack on the muscle, boost bone density, lengthen your stride, win some medals, make everyone envious and don't look back. Sports, bodybuilding, marathons--you call the shots. Even though your body is durable and forgiving right now, go easy on the fast food, legal beverages and sleepless nights.
30s -- You're an adult now
You have a job and added responsibilities. Perhaps there is a baby in the picture. You need energy. I repeat, you need energy. You're sleep deprived at the same time you're trying to establish a career. You may be missing that svelte frame from your 20s, so healthy eating is vitally important. You're still young, so go for it. And because you have less time, combine strength and cardio in a high intensity training session. Can't go too far from home? Rock some weights in the garage, sprint up your nearest hill or de-stress to a yoga DVD.
40s -- What do you mean I'm losing muscle?
The good news is you're successful enough to have a company wellness director. The bad news is you're greeted with an inner office message explaining how your metabolism is slowing down and stealing the last of the muscle you built in your 30s. Strength training suddenly sprints to the top of your to-do list. No more messing around; this is your last opportunity to be the athlete you used to be. Carve out a little more personal time and re-prioritize. Give up some cardio miles and hit the weights like never before. Hire that personal trainer to get the most out of the time you have and decide to work both hard and smart.
50s -- Lifestyle rears its ugly head
Like it or not, annual physicals, health screenings and worksite wellness programs are there for a reason. High blood pressure, menopause, insomnia, high cholesterol, stress and joint pain can't wait till you leave your 40s. Unhealthy lifestyle choices you thought would never catch up with you, such as smoking, do. Exercise has to be thoughtful a0nd more personal. You may not tolerate the high intensity workouts as often, and it may take longer for muscle recovery. Cross-training will help you avoid overuse injuries. Try other forms of exercise and reduce activities that involve repetitive movement. Pay more attention to range of motion with active stretches. Get to know and understand foam rolling. Finding fun in fitness is also important to minimize burnout and boredom. This also lowers your chance of injury, which is a victory in itself.
60s+ -- Daily activity
It's all about you now. The focus switches from personal bests to living longer and staying disease-free. Regular activity for the heart is a must, but building and preserving strength will prevent a variety of ills including balance issues. The gift of the 60+ is that you probably have more personal time, so this a prime time to engage a certified personal trainer. A trainer can design a program that is right for you. This is no time to give up because there is no finish line when it comes to activating the body. It is merely a time to refuel and to reframe your fitness for the future.
Cindy Boggs, wellness presenter and author, is an ACE-certified instructor/trainer. Send your questions about fitness, training or health to cindys...@aol.com. Look for her award-winning fitness advice book, "CindySays ... You Can Find Health in Your Hectic World" on her website, www.cindysays.com.