How to keep fit and healthy in every decade
Tuesday 21 September 2010
Keeping fit, healthy and looking good is usually a priority whatever your age, however, most people don’t realise each decade in your life requires a different approach to diet and fitness. From your 20s to your 50s, you can turn back the clock in each era of your life, and look fabulous, by following these simple tips suggested by Wellbeing’s fitness expert Nicki Waterman and nutritionist Amanda Ursel
Munch on plenty of vitamin C packed foods, such as orange juice, peppers, dark green vegetables, peas, sweet potatoes and fruit, such as berries and kiwi. Vitamin C is vital for producing collagen, the protein fibre which gives skin bounciness. This is a habit to pick up that will be of benefit whatever your age.
To banish ugly dark rings and combat tiredness fill up on iron rich foods like red meat, oily fish and shellfish at least once a week, plus nuts and pulses, yes, this includes baked beans!
Get motivated now, so you keep up the momentum through the years, well, that’s the idea anyway! Take up Pilates and yoga now and continue practicing until your fifties. Stretching your joints is key to staving off stiff joints later in life. As you age less blood circulates to your joints and calcium deposits can form, leading to stiffer muscles and joints.
Aim for 45-60 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity four to six days a week, during this time spend 15 minutes alternating between the treadmill, bike or skipping. If you’re feeing super motivated, now is also a great time to train for a 10k run! It’s also a good idea to strength train once or twice a week using weights.
Encourage your skin to ping back into place and produce more elastin, with protein rich foods such as milk, eggs, lean meat, fish and beans.
At this age you’re likely to experience declining oestrogen levels, which can result in dry skin. Eat soya-based foods such as lentils and wholegrain cereals to top up your own declining levels with plant oestrogen. Carry this habit in to your forties and fifties.
Vitamin E rich foods wholegrain and avocado will give skin the boost it needs, while dark green vegetables, like kale and spinach, and red foods, such as grapefruit and tomatoes, provide antioxidant pigments lycopene, lutein and beta carotene. All three defend against sun damage – so for sun worshippers this is particularly important.
Avoid sugary foods, which causes collagen to loose its bounce, you don’t want to counteract all your good work!
By your thirties there will be more demands on your time, so fitting in a 60 minute cardio four times a week is sometimes out of the question. No fear, simply focus on two – three days of interval workouts and make weights a priority. Go for moderate to high intensity for three minutes and all out exertion for one minute for at least 30 minutes a session. Weight train on two non-consecutive days per week using moderate to heavy weights.
At this age it’s vital to eat plenty of selenium rich foods daily, such as Brazil nuts, wholemeal bread, shellfish, wheat germ and sunflower seeds. This magic ingredient is vital for our bodies to make the antioxidant glutathione peroxidise, which helps protect skin from sun damage – a key factor in ageing. It also works well with vitamin E to protect skins oil and essential fats.
The older you get the more important it is to stay active as oestrogen levels drop, fat settles in the abdomen near the heart and the onset of perimenopause can happen just before the menopause. It’s not all bad news! These can all be offset with 45 – 60 minutes of moderate aerobic workouts 3 – 5 times a week. Keep bones strong with weight bearing exercise such as jogging and lift weights 3 times a week, doing two – three sets at a time.
Take up a love of fish and indulge in omega 3 rich foods, found in salmon and mackerel, which will keep skin cells hydrated. Mineral copper is also key for the production of melanin, the pigment that helps absorb UV rays, giving consistent skin colour. This can be found in shellfish, wholemeal bread and wholemeal pasta – we feel a seafood spaghetti coming on!
Also good for keeping you young and vibrant at this age are foods that contain the trace mineral silica, such as green beans, porridge and melon. Silica helps keep the spongy cells which lie between collagen and elastin spongy, which keeps the skin plump. Purple coloured foods such as blueberries and eggplant give us anthocyanins, which are believed to help keep the walls of tiny blood vessels strong. If you find this a lot to take in, just remember it’s always good to make your plate look like a rainbow!
At this age, when your body is experiencing a variety of changes and, possibly, the menopause it’s important to experiment with exercise to find something that suits you.
Walking and swimming for 30 – 60 minutes everyday to stave of any extra pounds and keep you healthy is excellent. If you want to loose more than this add an extra 30 minutes to your walk.
You’ll be pleased to know that at this age the best thing for your strength isn’t long marathons or hours in weight training, but practical and enjoyable exercises such as gardening, Pilates and yoga. These types of exercises will keep muscles and bones strong.
Now you’re equipped with all the information you need to keep you looking beautiful whatever your age!
By Heidi Vella