Our 30’s should be a great decade for fitness! Stamina and bone density are at a lifetime high, and its a time to push hard and enjoy working out. That said, it is a decade where hormonal changes will start to take effect on our body and with increasing commitments time constraints physical activity levels can drop. If nothing changes and we continue to eat as we did in our 20’s then over the decade we are likely to be looking at the onset of the dreaded middle age spread. The good news though is that with a few lifestyle tweaks and the right exercise focus we can easily manage the changes, maintaining a lean body and building strong foundations for our long term fitness.
After the age of 30 lean muscle starts to decline and we can lose 3-5% of our lean muscle per decade. The greater proportion of lean muscle we have the higher the metabolic rate (in other words the more calories we burn day to day just though our everyday life). Alongside the gradual decrease in lean muscle our metabolism is also starting to slow down. This means that that year on year if everything else remains the same, in order to just maintain our weight we need to consume less calories or increase our levels of physical activity.
Our 30’s are really only the early stages of change and it is relatively easy to manage weight and prevent the storage of fat. Start now and not only can we stay lean but physical activity will help prevent to impact of ageing. Telomeres are DNA ‘caps’ which protect our chromosomes like plastic tips at the end of shoelaces. Scientific studies have found evidence to suggest that exercise together with a healthy diet, helps limit telomere erosion to produce and ‘anti ageing’ effect, reducing the risk of age related illnesses such as cancer and heart disease.
Of course many women become pregnant and have babies at this age and that can create a fitness hurdle. The fitter and stronger you become before pregnancy the quicker you should be able to get back to exercise after the birth.
We can train hard in our 30’s. Even if it’s been a while since you last did formal exercise you should be able to pick it up quickly. Make sure your workouts are progressive and think about some goals along the way to keep you motivated. Steady stage running doesn’t quite cut it like it might have done in your 20’s, so introduce intervals. HIIT and resistance training will get better results quicker. Good exercise choices are:-
HIIT - time strapped 30 somethings will get quick cardio returns from HIIT (High Intensity Intervals). While you will get motivated to exercise harder in a class situation try adding an extra 2 x 20 minute HIIT workouts at home each week for best fat loss and fitness results.
Resistance Training - build lean muscle by adding resistance training to your fitness regime. Kettlebells and mini bands are cheap and effective and get results quicker than using body weight alone. As well as improving muscle tone you’ll burn fat, increase your metabolic rate and build bone mineral stores. Combine Kettlebells with HIIT for a real tame savy workout ticking all the boxes.
Start to think about Longevity Training - time invested in core conditioning, flexibility and balance will pay dividends in your forties and fifties, helping you stay injury free. A Pilates class once a week is a great choice particularly if you are planning a pregnancy to build muscular strength and balance before and after the baby is born.
Its simple really, eat according to how active you are. In general as we age we need less food but what we eat is important too. Eating a healthy diet in your 30’s will make life so much easier when the big hormonal changes start to hit in your forties.
Eat good quality proteins such as lean meats, nuts and eggs, and plenty nutrient rich vegetables. Choose complex carbohydrates as close to how nature intended as you can for example whole grains, quinoa, lentils and beans, sweet potatoes and oats. Where possible avoid processed foods, sugar and any ingredients you can’t easily identify particularly artificial sweeteners, preservatives and e-numbers.
- Make a commitment to your exercise. Diarise your workouts and treat them as important meetings finding child care if need be.
- Be progressive with your exercise. In a class your instructor will help with this. Some things to consider are adding intervals to a run or swim, increasing the weights in the gym and adding a short run to or from your class.
- Workout with weights - the benefits are massive.
- Clean up your meals - cook from fresh using quality protein and loads of vegetables.
- Cut back on refined white carbs, fizzy drinks and alcohol.