Exercise can’t erase the years, but it certainly helps delay the effects of aging. In fact, being physically fit is one of the best things you can do for your physical and mental health.
“Good health can help reduce the risk of chronic disease and reduce blood pressure And can reduce anxiety and depressive symptoms in some people,” said Dr. Scott Cheatham, professor of kinesiology at Cal State Dominguez Hills.
although healthy Without changing the number of candles on your birthday cake, it can make you functionally years younger. “If you’re healthy, you can work to keep someone 10 to 15 years younger,” says Michele Olson, PhD, senior clinical professor of exercise science at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama.
But what exactly does “fit” mean? It turns out that’s a broad term with multiple meanings — it doesn’t need to look like an Olympian.
Overall, “this means being able to have muscle strength, endurance, strength, joint mobility and overall flexibility to perform a task or physical activity without being overtired or overworked,” Cheatham said.
So how do you get there? What benchmarks can you use to determine your suitability? Experts answer these questions below.
What does fitness need
It’s more doable than you might think.
The U.S. government’s latest physical activity guidelines for Americans detail this.
“These guidelines provide a common practice template for most people, and everyone should strive to meet or exceed their recommendations,” Cheatham said.
According to the guidelines, adults should:
- Get at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (such as brisk walking or sweeping) or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise (such as running or participating in high-intensity fitness classes) per week.
- Muscle strengthening activities for all major muscle groups on two or more days per week.
- Sit less and move more throughout the day.
Doing so will reduce your risk of many health problems — what can happen all these years if you don’t take action.
“As you age, your muscle mass and bone density decline, and if you don’t stress your heart and lungs outside of activities of daily living, your cardiorespiratory fitness suffers,” said Dr. Walt Thompson, former president . American College of Sports Medicine.
After age 30, you actually lose about 3 to 5 percent of your muscle mass every decade, Cheatham says. Flexibility and mobility also decline with age. Although you reach peak bone mass between the ages of 17 and 30, you start to lose bone mass rapidly after age 50.
That’s why getting older won’t get you through the physical activity guide. In fact, guidelines recommend that people 65 and older also do balance training.
However, you may have a health condition or physical limitation that prevents you from reaching these weekly exercise milestones, Cheatham says. If this is the case, you should follow the guidelines’ recommendations to get as much physical activity as your abilities and conditions allow, knowing that you may need to adjust your activity as you age.
For example, running may be your go-to activity in your 20s and 30s. However, if you experience more aches and pains as you age, you may want to switch to a less impactful activity, such as brisk walking or cycling.
Also, it is wise to gradually add Aerobic exercise, Strength Training, and gradually balance your activities (if you haven’t already done so). If you have a medical condition that might affect what you can do, talk to your doctor first. You don’t need a gym or fancy workout clothes. Just move around and make it as fun as possible so you’ll stick with it.
Don’t Obsess About Fitness Age Benchmarks
Following official guidelines is one way to make sure you stay healthy and even avoid the pain that often comes with everyday life, says Olsen.
You can take a fitness test conducted by a qualified personal trainer. You’ll also find at-home options such as the sit-up test, push-up test, seated stretch test, and 1.5-mile run. There are articles online that illustrate age-related norms for men and women doing these exercises. Norms, however, compare the performance of other men and women on these tasks — they’re not criteria you have to meet.
There’s also something called your healthy age, which is a marker of your cardiorespiratory fitness. While Cheatham says it may not necessarily be a valid measure of your overall fitness, Self-assessment in this age of online fitness, which comes from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, can be fun. It just involves answering a series of questions.
However, all of these come with caveats. “Don’t stick to these so-called benchmarks, because they should be based on your personal needs, goals and physical activity,” Cheatham says.
Finally, remember that some exercise is better than no exercise, and getting more exercise should be your ultimate goal.
“You don’t decide a day for your health, especially since you still have all the reasons you used to not exercise,” Thompson said. “Instead, think about activities you enjoy doing and aspire to do them every day.”