So you’re no longer riding the awesome metabolism wave from your 20s, and maybe you have a couple kids running around and a career that keeps you mostly at a desk. Now that you’ve gotten settled into who you are, you’re ready to prevent yourself from looking like Jill in the cubicle down from yours who has hunched over shoulders and skin more leathery than your shoes.
The good news is you still have plenty of options to keep your body young both on the inside and out, even with a crazy busy schedule. All it takes is a little time to yourself and some solid preparation for your week ahead.
If you haven’t already made fitness and exercise a regular part of your routine, now would definitely be a great time to start. Research shows that you can lose as much as 3-5% of your muscle mass each decade after you hit 30 if you are physically inactive (1). That means your 30s are an incredibly important time in your life to continue lifting weights to preserve or even gain muscle mass.
Aside from burning more calories at rest, muscle tissue will reduce risk of injury by protecting your bones and strengthening your joints. Plus gaining muscle means you can tighten up those problem areas you may be struggling with and will speed up your metabolism that has started to drop off in recent years.
Another benefit of exercise to consider is the energy boost it provides. You may be used to relying on that third or fourth cup of coffee, but studies show that over the long term regular physical activity boosts energy levels and reduces the amount of fatigue you experience every day (2). This means spending 30 minutes performing moderate to vigorous intensity exercise most days will give you more energy to keep up with those little ones, not to mention will set a good example for them to be physically fit as they grow up.
Don’t have a ton of time to get a workout in? Circuit training and high intensity interval training (HIIT) are great ways to reap the benefits of strength training and cardio in a short amount of time. Make sure you are hitting every major muscle group at least once or twice a week and getting your heart rate up, especially if you are trying to lose weight. Getting your heart rate up also means making your heart work, which is incredibly important in terms of cardiovascular health and endurance, both things that tend to decline beginning in your mid-30s.
If you enjoyed a fast metabolism for the first 20-30 years of your life, you will probably start to notice a slow down as you progress into your 30s. Exercise will definitely help rev up your metabolic fire, but your nutrition will be a key player in how you look and feel agewise.
It may be more difficult to make good choices from a nutrition standpoint at this time in your life. Chances are you have more responsibility with kids and a career, let alone your social life.Keys to proper nutrition will come from planning ahead: go-to easy prep meals when you are short on time, meal prepping ahead for workdays, and making sure you always have nutritionally dense foods on hand for meals and snacks. Make sure you take a little time once or twice a week to plan ahead, especially when you know you will be particularly busy on certain days.
As far as nutrients, Iron and calcium are especially important for women who may begin to lose bone mass in their 30s, but are also important for muscle growth. Lean meats and low fat dairy a great sources of these important minerals. Joint health is definitely something you need to be aware of at this time in your life, as joint problems develop now even though symptoms may not begin to show until later. This means plenty of healthy fats – something you can find in fatty, cold water fish like salmon. You can also choose to take a fish oil supplement, something that has been proven to enhance cartilage health and reduce inflammation.
You may notice that after strength training you are experiencing more discomfort or soreness than you did in your 20s. And years of sitting at a desk job may be causing you to lose flexibility since your muscles shorten from lack of use in a full range of motion, which may now be affecting your posture.
It’s no longer going to be enough to just do a couple quick stretches after you workout. You will have to make stretching, foam rolling, and possibly yoga or Pilates all part of your routine. Focus on mobility work will help prevent, or at the very least reduce, the aches and pains you feel from working out. Foam rolling is an essential part to either your warm up or cool down in order to increase muscle flexibility and break up knots that may be responsible for pain occurring elsewhere in your body.
Yoga and Pilates are all about increasing flexibility, lengthening your muscles, correcting posture, and connecting with your body, all of which are extremely important in terms of preventing or solving chronic pain.They may not be as immediately gratifying as lifting heavy weights or hitting that runner’s high, but they may ultimately enhance your performance as you solve underlying issues that are holding you back.
So now that you know how to protect your body from signs of aging and keep that metabolism fired up, it’s time to begin implementing these steps into your routine. Make sure you plan your workouts and meals ahead of time into your schedule to keep your excuses from turning into aches and pains or fat gain. Share with us in the comments below how you keep yourself young and what you plan to do to prevent father time from creeping up on you.