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How to Adjust Your Workout As You Get Older

It is no big surprise that as you age your body changes. Yet, many people fail to adjust their workouts to meet the changing needs of their aging body. What worked for you when you were in your teens may not work when you are in your 20s – and definitely not when you are […]

Published: 5/11/15

It is no big surprise that as you age your body changes. Yet, many people fail to adjust their workouts to meet the changing needs of their aging body. What worked for you when you were in your teens may not work when you are in your 20s – and definitely not when you are in your 30s or 40s. Even if you can’t handle your old highschool teen workout, staying in shape is important. Still, working out is important. Exercise helps to boost your mood, improve your sleep patterns, and give you more self-confidence – plus it is good for your brain by helping to ward off cognitive decline, memory loss, and dementia.

Our handy guide will help you navigate many of the changes your body will go through as you age, and give you tips on how to adjust to them. Many of these steps are changes you can make today. Check out these tips for an age appropriate workout and take your workout to the next level.

In your 20s

When you are in your 20s your body is quite resilient. This is a great time to be adventurous in your workouts, just don’t over train or push your body too hard. That could lead to injury. Your goal for cardio should include longer workouts (45 minutes to an hour) five or six days a week. You will want to work up to aerobic activity that is moderate in its intensity. This will help you burn fat and increase your endurance. Add some fun by varying your routine. Bike for 15 – 20 minutes, run on the treadmill, then jump rope. This will help keep you from getting bored as well as get you in great shape.

If being fit and toned is your goal, do strength training two to four times a week. Aim for two to three sets for each exercise. The key is ensuring that your weights are not too heavy or too light. You want to feel the weight but not be at a point where you can’t get through your first set. Choose enough weight that will allow you to lift, feel a little resistance, and cause you to struggle when you do your last three or four reps. If you find that you can easily get through your workout with a set weight, increase it a little to give your body a challenge.

In your 30s

In your 30s, life has caught up with you and you may often find yourself stretched between work and family. These commitments really bite into your workout time so you have to get a little creative when exercising. Interval training is a great way to burn maximum calories in minimum time. An added benefit is that it also staves off exercise boredom. At this stage in your life, though, if you haven’t done much with weight training, now is the time to get on board.

Two to four days of interval training for 30 to 40 minutes per session will help keep you fit. Use a combination of cardio machines and walk and run outside. You may also want to check out circuit training classes at your local gym or on DVD. Round it out by adding one 40 to 60 minute cardio session each week.

Your weight training will change a bit. You don’t have the resilience in your body that you did in your 20s and you are starting to lose some muscle mass. Combat this by doing weight training every other day a couple of days a week and by using weights that are moderate to heavy to build your muscle mass back up. You’ll look toned and fit, plus the muscle you are building will make your metabolism far more efficient.

In your 40s

As your body rounds the curve to 40 you may find that your metabolism has slowed significantly and fat is accumulating in your midsection. The abdomen is a dangerous place to carry fat because it circulates more fat closer to the heart. This can lead to heart disease.

Moderate aerobic activity for 45 minutes to an hour, three to six times a week should be your cardio goal. Brisk walking is a good option, but cardio machines are also extremely effective. Getting adequate cardio during this time of your life is important because while it helps you get rid of extra weight or combat weight gain, it will also help you to sleep better, boosts your mood, and can help relieve stress.

Your 40s are also a time when strength training becomes even more important – especially for women. Opt for lifting weights three or four times a week with two or three sets for each movement. Use light weights for the first set to warm up. For the second and third set use heavier weights. You want the last three or four reps to be challenging.


In your 50s, 60s, and 70s your strength and muscle tone decrease substantially. Weakened muscles can affect your balance, making you more prone to falling and injury. Older adults can enjoy several great benefits from exercising:

  • Lose weight
  • Maintain weight
  • Increase mobility
  • Increase flexibility
  • Increase balance
  • Reduce risk of certain health conditions
  • Reduce the impact of illness

If you already have mobility issues, you should talk to your doctor to find out what you can and cannot do for exercise.

The best cardio for seniors includes activities that are low impact, such as swimming, cycling, walking, and water aerobics. Do one of these activities for twenty to forty-five minutes two to three times a week. It is important to get moving and get your heart rate up, but you should talk to your doctor about the frequency and intensity of the exercises.

Weight training should be approached with the same attitude. Some older people can handle moderate weights while others require small weights. You have to find what is best for you. Some older individuals experience joint pain after lifting heavier weights so you’ll want to find an appropriate weight that you can lift comfortably. Two or three days a week of strength training will help with muscle tone and allow you to reap all the benefits of exercise.

Fitness is great to pursue at any age, but you have to do it smart. Listen to your body and do age appropriate exercise. You will feel better, look better, and age more gracefully.

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