How to Find the Right Fitness Routine For Your Age

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Your body changes as you age and your exercise routine should change with it. Exercise recommendations do differ by age, but they always include a combination of cardio, strength training, and flexibility or balance training. When it comes to starting a new habit, a personalized exercise plan that meets you where you are — warts and all — can make all the difference.

After all, there’s nothing more discouraging than a workout that feels like torture (except maybe one that leaves you hobbling around for days on end!).

In addition to your age and gender, other factors that influence exercise recommendations include:

  • Your weight and any weight loss goals

  • Your current fitness level and your fitness goals

  • Any injuries or physical limitations

  • Any chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, or osteoporosis

  • Whether you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or postpartum

Since age is such an important one, we’re putting it in the spotlight today. Keep reading to learn about the physical activity guidelines for every age group and all the associated health benefits. Then we’ll get you started on tailoring your ideal fitness plan.

Exercise Recommendations for Your 20s and 30s

Physical activity guidelines recommend that adults in their 20s and 30s get at least:

  • 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate-intensity activity per week

  • Or 75 minutes to 2.5 hours of vigorous-intensity activity per week

Though these general recommendations remain the same for adults between ages 18 and 64, there are some differences.

But before we jump into the specific workout recommendations for younger adults, let’s look at the health benefits to understand why it’s important to prioritize regular physical activity during this stage of your life.

Building healthy habits while you’re young sets you up for the future  — helping reduce your risk of gaining excess weight, developing obesity, and dealing with obesity-related health conditions. It’s also great for your mental health.

One study found a positive association between cardiovascular fitness in young people (ages 18 to 30) and long-term heart health. The findings suggest that those who were fitter in their youth had a lower risk for death and heart disease about 30 years later (when they were in their 50s and 60s).

The health benefits don’t stop there! Starting a regular exercise practice at a younger age could help protect bone health later in life.

Bone mass is an important health indicator. When your bones lose density you can develop osteoporosis, a disorder that makes bones more fragile and prone to breaking. Getting regular physical activity helps maintain bone density.

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Best Workouts for People in their 20s and 30s

  • Cardio: Running, cycling, rowing, stair climbing, boxing, boot camp-style classes, or playing sports like soccer, basketball, or volleyball.

  • HIIT workouts: High-intensity interval training can help you combine cardio and strength training into one session. HIIT classes are a great way to get guidance on balancing periods of intense activity with rest periods.

  • Yoga and Pilates: If you want to keep your body flexible and strong for years to come, these targeted workouts should be right up your alley.

  • Strength training: Muscle-strengthening activities not only tone and tighten your body, it also support a healthy metabolism. Consider lifting heavy weights at the gym, using dumbbells or resistance bands at home, or finding a CrossFit gym near you.

  • Walking and moving. Daily movement is just as important as your more targeted exercise routine. Using a smartwatch or fitness tracker can help, especially if you work behind a desk all day and, like us, you need reminders to stand the f up every once and a while!

Staying Physically Active During Pregnancy

If you decide to get pregnant, whether you’re in your 20s, 30s, or 40s, you’ll need to make some changes to your exercise routine. It is both safe and encouraged for pregnant women without any health conditions to engage in regular physical activity.

It’s possible that exercise during pregnancy could reduce your risk of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and postpartum depression. It may also help you lose weight after the baby is born.

Women who are physically active before pregnancy can maintain their current level of activity as long as their pregnancy is not high-risk. Aim for 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise every day — or most days — of the week.

If you have a high-risk pregnancy or were inactive before becoming pregnant, talk with your OBGYN before starting a new exercise routine.

Physical Activity in Your 40s and 50s

Let’s begin with a reminder for anyone who needs to hear it: it’s literally never too late to start improving your fitness level. Honestly, tons of people don’t start working out until later in life.

Let’s face it, life in your forties and fifties is a little different — and we don’t just mean the bird watching (bet that one snuck up on you!). We’re talking about the realization that you’re not getting any younger.

That “aha” moment when you realize you want to keep playing, dancing, and thriving for at least the next three decades. Talk about a motivator!

In your forties and fifties, physical activity guidelines are generally the same as when you were younger:

  • 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week

  • Or 75 minutes to 2.5 hours of vigorous-intensity activity per week

You can partake in most, if not all, of the same physical activities you enjoyed in your 20s and 30s. But you might want to change things up a little. Younger adults tend to exercise because they want to look fit and toned. As we age, our goals change. So you might spend less time focusing on your abs and more time working on your core strength.

Full-body strength training can help you combat the natural slowing of your metabolism. And it can help you maintain bone strength and integrity. Aerobic activity, alongside a healthy diet, can help you maintain a steady weight (which we all know gets harder with age).

Your forties and fifties can be among the busiest years of your life. You may be at the peak of your career. You might spend half your day hauling kids back and forth (and back and forth) from their various activities. And you might have aging family members to support. So finding the time to work out can be a challenge.

But remember, any movement that you fit into your day is going to help! Moving your body also supports your mental health and helps reduce stress.

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Best Workouts for People in Their 40s and 50s

  • Yoga or Pilates

  • Dancing

  • Jogging or running

  • Cycling

  • Brisk walking

  • Swimming

  • Weight training

  • HIIT classes

  • Rock climbing

Exercising in Your 60s and Beyond

Okay, so you’re starting to slow down a little. Good for you! You deserve it! Exercising in your sixties, seventies, and eighties is all about helping you live life to the fullest. Whether that means a cycling trip around Europe, a dance class with your partner, or goofing around with your grandkids.

The key to exercising as an older adult is learning to adapt. For instance, maybe you love walking but your shins have seen enough pavement to last a lifetime. You might consider hiking a local trail instead. Or maybe you love cycling, but it’s getting harder to get on and off the bike. A recumbent bike may be the solution.

The recommended amount of exercise for older adults is lower than the recommendations for younger people.

The CDC recommends adults ages 65 and older get at least:

  • 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity activity per week

  • Two strength training sessions per week

  • Some activity that promotes balance and flexibility

Your strength training sessions don’t need to be Swartzinager-style. Instead, consider keeping some dumbbells or resistance bands nearby. You can even stay seated while working out your upper body.

As you age, you may experience issues that affect your mobility. The disks between your spinal bones may wear away and cause chronic back pain. Plus Osteoporosis can cause micro-fractures in the spine.

The cartilage around your major joints gets thinner, after years of friction and movement, so pain and injury can become more common. Strength-building exercises can help keep your muscles lean and nimble, which helps keep your body aligned and takes pressure off individual joints.

Regular physical activity may help lower your risk of developing health problems, such as

  • Heart disease

  • Obesity

  • High blood pressure

  • Type 2 diabetes

  • Cognitive decline

  • Osteoporosis

Types of Physical Activity for Older Adults

Other suggested physical activities for older adults include:

  • Resistance band exercises

  • Water aerobics

  • Swimming

  • Balance exercises like yoga and Pilates can help, as the risk of falls is higher in older adults

  • Walking

  • Gardening

  • Stretching

  • Tai Chi

As always, it’s best to think about physical fitness in the context of general lifestyle and well-being habits, as staying healthy also requires plenty of sleep, a nutritious diet, and staying hydrated (and of course, things like sunshine and laughing!).

How Much Exercise Do Kids Need?

Though we may call it something other than working out, kids as young as three to five should get an hour or more of moderate-to-vigorous intensity exercise every day, according to the CDC. It’s also recommended that they spread the action out throughout the day, rather than getting it all at once.

High activity levels help young kids develop stronger, healthier bones, and may even lead to fewer heart, lung, and insulin-related health issues later in life, as one 2019 review points out. It’s also linked to healthier weight status, which can impact health and development, too.

Adolescents should begin incorporating aerobic activity and weight-training exercises to their routines. This age group also has more opportunities to take part in organized physical activities and team sports, as their motor skills begin to improve.

The Bottom Line

Physical activity guidelines for all age groups stress a combination of cardio, strength training, and flexibility/balance work. Most adults should aim for at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity activity a week.

As you enter your sixties and seventies, your exercise needs will drop a bit. Older adults should focus on adapting to what their bodies can achieve comfortably and without risk of injury. Always remember that any movement you can fit into your day is a win. So don’t stress too much about following the guidelines to the letter. Just find something you enjoy and stick with it.

This article originally appeared on Forhers.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

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Why Is My Weight Stuck Even After Exercise and Diet? 14 Tips to Get Past a Plateau

Why Is My Weight Stuck Even After Exercise and Diet? 14 Tips to Get Past a Plateau

You’ve been on the healthy weight loss train for a while, successfully chugging along toward your end goal. But an initially predictable game of subtracting one to two pounds a week has now slowed to crawl — or a complete stop. What gives? This is called a weight loss plateau.

Annoying as it may be, it’s a normal and very common aspect of weight loss. So what can you do to get past it? We have answers.

Let’s start by exploring why weight loss plateaus occur. Then we’ll go over how to break through a weight loss plateau and dig into how to get back on a more linear weight loss plane.

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In nature, a plateau is an elevated piece of flat land that rises above the surrounding area and falls sharply on at least one side. Similarly, a weight loss plateau occurs when your weight loss progress stalls — and goes flat — despite continued efforts.

In the early stages of weight loss, you’ll typically experience significant changes in body composition, with a lowered body mass index (BMI), due to the combination of reduced caloric intake and increased physical activity.

However, over time, it’s not uncommon for the body to adapt to these changes by slowing down metabolism and conserving energy. This makes it harder to continue losing weight at the same pace.

Besides that, factors like hormone fluctuations, muscle building (a pound of muscle is more dense than a pound of fat) and water retention can contribute to a plateau.

Breaking through a weight loss plateau often requires reassessing dietary habits, modifying exercise routines and potentially seeking professional guidance to target other lifestyle adjustments for excess weight and obesity.

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It may sound simple, but a weight loss plateau lasts for however long you maintain the same weight. If your weight — which was previously dropping due to a weight loss routine — stops dropping, you’re at a plateau. If you make changes and your weight starts going down again, you’ve broken out of that plateau.

Weight Loss Plateaus are Normal

Most people who’ve embarked on a long-term weight loss journey will tell you about the times their body weight stalled. So you’re not alone if you find yourself asking, “Why can’t I lose weight?” or “Why is my weight not going down?”

In fact, research suggests it’s common for plateaus to occur during a weight loss journey. A few months in, your initial weight loss strategy may no longer be effective, so you might have to switch things up to continue seeing results.

Don’t get derailed by all the purported quick fixes and theories for weight loss plateaus. A setback doesn’t mean you need to start taking weight loss medications or saving up for injections — though these can be worthwhile options for many.

Patience, persistence and a focus on overall health versus the number on the scale are essential for overcoming a weight loss plateau. So, try not to worry about losing weight slowly — in the end, slow weight loss is still weight loss.

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When you hit a wall and aren’t losing weight, it’s understandable to go down the rabbit hole of potential reasons — especially if you’ve been diligent in your diet and exercise habits.

Though multiple factors could be at play, a couple of main theories are thought to contribute to weight loss plateaus.

Your Body Might Think It’s Starving

First is the concept of entering “starvation mode.” Prolonged calorie restriction can prompt your body to conserve energy and hinder further weight loss efforts until you feed it more.

When calorie intake is severely restricted for an extended period, your body may adapt by slowing down its metabolic rate. This response is a survival mechanism honed through evolution, designed to conserve energy during times of food scarcity.

That said, factors like genetics, age and initial body composition (your height and weight before attempting to shed pounds) can influence if, when and how your body transitions into starvation mode.

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As your weight goes down and your body composition changes, it requires fewer calories to stay alive. This means the same reduced-calorie diet you were following for the beginning of your weight loss journey now matches your new body size and isn’t enough to continue your weight loss. To lose more, you have to reduce your daily calorie intake even more.

Of course, these aren’t the only two factors that can lead to a weight loss plateau. Other things like intermittently “falling off the wagon” of your nutrition and exercise routine can also play a part.

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The best approach to breaking a weight loss plateau combines examining your nutrition, moving your body more, trying different exercises, building your social support system, getting physical and mental rest and seeking professional guidance if needed.

Let’s dig into each of these a bit more.

1. Examine Your Diet

Nutrition is arguably the most critical aspect of weight loss, let alone overall health and wellness. So if you’re wondering how to break a plateau in weight loss, consider it a good time to examine (and potentially adjust) your diet.

Reevaluating your dietary habits involves scrutinizing not only the amount of food you’ve been eating, but the quality and nutrient composition of your meals, snacks and beverages.

You might start by keeping a food diary or tracking what you eat in a weight loss app. Some people find it helpful to get a bird’s eye view of things like portion sizes and macronutrient ratios (what percentage of your dietary intake is from carbs, fat and protein) in addition to their overall calorie intake.

You could find that you’ve been overindulging without realizing it. 

Additionally, the time of day you eat meals and snacks could be affecting your metabolism and ability to lose weight.

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Increasing your daily intake of lean meats, eggs and plant-based protein can help preserve muscle mass and support a healthy metabolism. Your body burns roughly twice as many calories digesting protein than it does carbs and fat.

(Related10 Healthy Snacks for Weight Loss)

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Reducing processed foods and refined sugars can help cut out secret sources of calories. Incorporating more fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains can enhance satiety (a feeling of fullness) and support digestive health.

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Eating fewer carbohydrates or following a ketogenic diet can be an effective way to lose weight. However, low-carb diets aren’t for everyone, and they can be hard to implement into your lifestyle long term — and that’s completely okay.

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A little perspective and thoughtful adjustment to your eating habits could be just what you need to reignite your progress.

It might be tempting to try something like a celery juice diet for quick weight loss. But very restrictive diets lack the necessary nutrients to keep your energy levels up and maintain overall health, and generally, they aren’t sustainable in the long run.

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Alcohol could be stalling your weight loss efforts, even if you’re watching what you eat and exercising regularly. Research suggests that drinking less can help prevent overeating and support weight loss, especially for those who struggle with impulse control.

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Soda, juice and other sugary drinks can hinder your weight loss goals, as they’re high in calories. But drinking more water could have the opposite effect.

Guzzling two liters of water a day (about 68 ounces) might boost your metabolic rate by up to 30 percent. This means you’ll burn more calories and, hopefully, get back on track with losing weight.

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In addition to upping your water intake, you might try drinking black coffee or unsweetened tea (both of which only contain roughly two calories a cup). These natural sources of caffeine could provide the fat-burning boost your body needs to break through a weight loss plateau.

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Like the system-shocking stimulation of a polar plunge, diversifying workouts and intensifying activity levels can shock your body out of complacency when you hit a plateau.

It’s easy to fall into a pattern of comfortable, repetitive activities that may have initially been helpful for weight loss. But if you keep doing the same things, your progress might slow to a stop.

At this point, it’s time to think about how you can move your body in new ways.

Achieving and maintaining weight loss goals for the long haul requires an exercise routine that goes above and beyond the minimum physical activity requirements for basic health (think 60 minutes most days rather than a half-hour five days a week).

Incorporating high-intensity interval training (HIIT) sessions or increasing the frequency and duration of cardio workouts can elevate the number of calories you burn and enhance fat burning.

Beyond that, strength-training exercises can help build and preserve lean muscle mass, which boosts your resting metabolic rate (the amount of calories you’re burning from simply being alive).

Cross-training (doing different activities or sports throughout the week) can also prevent workout monotony and challenge you both physically and mentally.

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Just as important as increasing and changing your exercise routine is incorporating intentional rest. Adequate recovery time between workouts helps prevent overtraining and allows for optimal muscle repair and growth.

Stagnation in weight loss can be frustrating, no doubt, but be kind to yourself. Fueling a weight loss plateau with self-criticism and increased pressures likely won’t yield the results you want. Instead, consider some areas where you can give yourself a break, physically and emotionally.

Intentional rest may not catapult you into the maximum calorie-burning zone, but it’s an essential component of long-term health.

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Can getting more shut-eye really help with weight loss? It might!

Research suggests that sleep deprivation can lead to elevated food cravings by messing with appetite-regulating hormones. Aiming for seven to nine hours of sleep a night may help you stick to a healthy diet.

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Many things in life are better with the support, company and shared grumblings of friends — and weight loss is one of them. Social support and accountability can be vital for navigating and overcoming a weight loss plateau. 

When faced with stagnation in your weight loss efforts, having a strong support system can provide encouragement, motivation and perspective. Friends, family members or weight loss communities can offer empathy, practical advice and even humor during challenging times.

Not to mention, having people to share experiences and setbacks with can strengthen relationships and fight feelings of isolation. Whether in the form of an accountability coach or a friend on a similar weight loss journey, this kind of support can provide structure, reignite motivation and be an opportunity for personal reflection.

Maybe this looks like regular check-ins, sharing meal planning and prep duties or sweating it out at the gym together. In any case, social support can be a game-changer for getting past weight loss plateaus.

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High levels of stress can lead to unhealthy habits that promote weight gain and make it harder to get back on track.

Implementing stress-management practices might help you get out of a weight loss rut.

There are many ways to reign in your stress. Maybe it’s meditation, deep-breathing exercises, journaling, taking nature walks at lunch or becoming an amateur yogi.

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When you find yourself on a plateau and don’t know how to get off, it may be time to consult an expert.

While advice from friends and family can be helpful, there’s no one-size-fits-all prescription for weight loss. Everyone’s body responds in different ways to diet and exercise routines.

Connecting with a healthcare professional, registered dietitian or certified personal trainer can offer new perspectives and techniques tailored to your needs. 

Such experts can conduct comprehensive assessments — including evaluating your dietary habits, metabolic rate and fitness levels — to devise strategies for overcoming plateaus effectively.

They may be able to help identify underlying habits getting in the way of your progress, such as mindless eating, overeating, emotional eating or hormonal imbalances. These obstacles can be hard to pinpoint when you’re in the middle of it.

Plus, paying for personalized support in a specific area, like a weight loss program, comes with a layer of accountability and motivation that may make all the difference.

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Will a weight loss plateau go away on its own? It’s hard to say. But don’t be discouraged — there are plenty of things you can do to help move things along. 

When you find yourself struggling with weight loss or asking, “Why am I stuck at the same weight?” despite diligent diet and exercise habits:

  • Remember, it’s normal. Plateaus are a common and expected aspect of any weight loss journey. This doesn’t discount the frustration that comes with them — but instead of focusing on how to get past a weight loss plateau, remember you’re not alone, and weight loss is a long game.

  • Take a multi-faceted approach. Weight loss is a complex thing involving numerous factors. When you find yourself at a standstill, consider it an opportunity to reflect on your goals and habits. This includes your nutrition, exercise regimen, social support, stress management practices and whether professional guidance would be beneficial.

  • Be patient. Weight isn’t gained overnight — and it’s not going to come off quickly, either. At some point, weight loss will stall and things may need to be reevaluated. Be kind to yourself and trust that consistency is key. You’ve got this! 

This article originally appeared on Forhers.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org

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