It’s true that age is just a number. However, there are certain considerations to take into account when it comes to exercise and fitness for your age, depending on our amount of lapses around the sun. Should a twenty-five year old and a fifty-year-old be practicing the same exercise? Well, maybe, but it depends. “Our age does not defy our physical limitations,” says Aaptiv Trainer Michael Septh. After all, you can be any age and run your first marathon and strength training is beneficial for every decade. Instead of focusing on how age impacts your workouts, it’s more important to consider what workouts benefit you at your age. Below we break down fitness by decade. Find out how to best apply fitness for your age based on your body’s physical needs.
Knowing Your Heart Rate
Before jumping into our sample workout routines and fitness recommendations, it’s important to be familiar with your heart rate. Regardless of age, heart rate monitoring is an important component of any exercise. According to the American Heart Association, the recommended resting heart rate should sit around 60 to 80 beats per minute. While those who are physically fit tend to have lower resting heart rates and those who are older tend to rate higher, this number should be your measurement when looking at fitness and health. So, no matter your age, take note of your resting heart rate. It will guide your workout routines to maximize your output.
Septh recommends knowing your zones (one, two, and three) when working out, and to measure your heart rate during your exercises. Reason being: heart rates are not subjective. When it comes to age and output it may be difficult to place everyone on an even playing field. However, following your heart’s beating during your routine will guarantee that you are getting the best workout for your body. Here are the three zones:
- One: 60-70 percent of your max heart rate (great for weight and strength training)
- Two: 70-80 percent of your max heart rate (known as the working zone, best for cardio, dynamic strength training–e.g. jumping squats)
- Three: 80-90 percent of your max heart rate (should stay here 60 seconds maximum, entails exercises like running/sprinting)
“When you’re in your twenties, your body can handle different compound movements,” says Septh. He recommends that you engage in activities and exercises like kettlebell swings and full squats to presses—movements that place more stress upon the body. Our bodies in our twenties are fast to recover, therefore they can handle a good number of full body workouts. “Stay away from a full program or workout routines made up solely of isolated muscle movements. While a few here in there to isolate a bicep or tricep can be a benefit to add in, you want to create a more dynamic workout for yourself in your twenties,” say Septh. It’s also important to monitor your heart rate, Septh recommends those in their twenties to work into zone three heart rate levels at least two to three times per week.
Just like your twenties, Septh believes that those in their thirties should maximize their zone three heart rates two to three times a week through cardio work, as well as engage in dynamic and compound movements. There are only a few differences that occur in our bodies between the age of twenty and thirty (when it comes to fitness), and one pertains specifically for men.
When men hit the age of thirty, they’ll start to see their testosterone levels dropping. With this, it’s important that men add rehabilitation and recovery time to workouts as the body will not be healing itself as fast as in your twenties. The thirties (for both men and women) are an important time to not only exercise but also to focus on nutrition, as you’ll notice your metabolism start to slow down, as well.
Starting at the age of forty, women should begin (if they have not already done so) a weight training routine. While Septh agrees that women starting in their twenties should begin engaging in cross-training fitness (which works on both cardio and muscle building), it’s crucial for women to develop strength training in their forties. Reason being, this is the age women start to develop osteoporosis (which can also affect men). Septh recommends beginners engage in utilizing their own bodyweight when starting a fitness routine. Some examples of exercises include push-ups, squats, lunges, and crunches. Along with strength training, Septh recommends that both men and women in their forties should reach zone three with their heart rate at least twice a week when engaging in cardio workouts.
Towards the age of fifty, men will really start to notice the depletion of testosterone. In order to retain proper levels of testosterone as men get into their fifties and sixties, it’s very important to work on muscle building. “During muscle recovery, the body releases testosterone to heal wounded tissue and replenish the body,” according to Septh. By constantly engaging your hormone levels, your body is building up proper levels of testosterone. The best ways to develop strength training in your fifties is by using bodyweight exercise (as mentioned above). As you master your own bodyweight, move on to machine-based resistance and weight. Then, finally, working into free-base movement (which could include the use of tools like resistance bands and kettlebells). For cardio, Septh recommends reaching zone three heart rate levels once a week.
Sixties and Seventies
Once we reach our sixties and seventies, our fitness goals tend to change—and they should. Along with intrinsic body management and health, individuals now need to focus on proprioception. This is the body’s ability to handle and adapt to outside forces. Reason being, ordinary daily tasks will start to become more difficult to perform if you don’t prep your body accordingly. Septh recommends “maintaining strength and mobility to retrain your neuromuscular system. An exercise to start practicing may be: picking one leg off the floor (45-60 seconds each) with your eyes open. Once you’re able to master each leg, try putting an unstable environment underneath like a Bosu ball and balancing with your eyes open.”
Physical fitness is an important part of life at any age, but your body’s needs change as the decades wear on. Pay attention to your body and how exercise feels to figure out the best fitness for your age.